With the unanimous approval of the Stanford Hospital expansion project, it seems development plans are going somewhat smoothly, except for imminent influx of traffic on Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park.
The Hospital expansion project will put approximately 10,000 more cars on the road during evening rush hour and 5,000 additional cars in morning rush hour, according to a traffic study done by the consulting firm TJKM.
Some residents say this is a problem that has not been properly addressed.
“The easiest thing the city of Menlo Park can do is simply synchronize the lights on Sand Hill Road,” said Bruce Adornato, Menlo Park resident.
“That would really smooth out the slow.”
Adornato lives on Sand Hill Road near I-280 and commutes daily to his place of employment, the Stanford Medical Center. He says that not only is this drive an exercise of his patience, it also is detrimental to the environment.
“I burn a lot of gas sitting at those stoplights,” he said.
The traffic there increased dramatically, after the was built, he said, and the worst is yet to come when construction of the expansion project begins.
“We need some energy and analysis on this,” Adornato said, noting that he was unsettled by the fact that the city has been allocated $1.3 million for traffic mitigation, but has yet to implement any of that funding.
“As of this date, I have not seen any action to address this,” he said.
According to city officials, the pause in utilizing traffic mitigation funds is not from lack of concern for residents, it is from lack of coordination.
“Sand Hill is obviously a pretty big challenge because we have three agencies that are out there: Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Caltrans,” said Glen Rojas, Menlo Park City Manager.
“We’re sandwiched between two. On the east is Palo Alto and on the west side is Caltrans,” he said.
Such coordination can prove to be difficult, Rojas said, especially when dealing with such large agencies as Caltrans.
“It’s really hard to get an agency as large as Caltrans to focus on this because Caltrans doesn’t have the same priorities as we have,” Rojas said. Caltrans is responsible for managing highways, inner-city rail services, and other large mobility initiatives throughout the state of California.
According to Rojas, the city has requested $1.8 million in funding from the San Mateo Transportation Authority to address the traffic congestion.
“We do have a project that we’re looking at in the future for adaptive signal,” Rojas said.
The adaptive signals will adjust the traffic light signals to change color during peak times via a computer generator, Rojas said. Because the adaptive signals will change with the fluctuation of traffic, especially during peak hours when traffic is worst, traffic could move more smoothly. The areas that would most benefit from the adaptive signals are the intersections at Sand Hill and Santa Cruz and Sand Hill and Oak, Rojas said.
Though the coordination may be challenging, Rojas assured that there are projects in the works for those caught in the red light’s checkmate.
For now, Adornato and many on Sand Hill Road are waiting for the traffic mitigation initiative to get the green light.
“If you want to know what it feels like,” Adornato said. “Go up El Camino to the 280 at 5 p.m.”