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SMC Supes Set to Seal Fate of Alpine Trail

Board may decline Stanford's offer to fund improvements at Tuesday's meeting.

The fate of a $10.4 million offer from Stanford University to fund improvements to the trail along Alpine Road may be decided Tuesday by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors.

At their meeting, supervisors are slated decide whether to decline the university's money, or approve a two-year deadline extension which would allow the county more time to mull over how to address the trail that spans through the unincorporated communities of Ladera and Stanford Weekend Acres.

Last month, the board voted in favor of delaying the same decision in order to further negotiate with Stanford potential trail configurations that the university may be willing to fund.

As a result of that bargaining the school and county agreed to three more trail configurations that could be considered, in addition to three other previously agreed upon options.

According to a public memo, the six options that the board has to consider are:

- Moving Alpine Road north to allow more space for the trail on the south side of the road. This configuration would require cutting into the existing hillside along the Stanford Weekend Acres section of the road. 

- Improving the trail along its existing alignment, which would result in a narrower trail along the south side of Alpine Road.

- Construct a broader trail that crosses Alpine Road near Piers Lane, and continues north until it continues into open space owned by Stanford or SLAC National Accelerator Lab. This configuration would then avoid the Weekend Acres neighborhood until it again crossed Alpine Road.

- Build a trail that again crosses Alpine Road near Piers Lane, but then continues along the north Side of Alpine Road until the trail passes Stanford Weekend Acres near Stowe Lane, and then cross back to the south side of Alpine Road.

- Only improve the segment of the trail between the border of Portola Valley and Piers Lane, avoiding construction on the lower Alpine Trail from Portola Valley to the border of Menlo Park.

- Do nothing.

In the past, residents of Stanford Weekend Acres have voiced their opposition to the trail improvements, claiming that the additional traffic brought as a result of the project would be a detriment to their community.

Meanwhile, many members of Ladera community have encouraged supervisors to accept the university's offer because they are in favor of the increased connectivity the improved trail would offer residents who want to access Stanford Shopping Center, and other surrounding amenities.

But both sides of the issue have expressed concerns regarding the safety of the trail, and claimed that those who use it for walking or biking are in danger of being struck by cars driving on Alpine Road.

Initially, Stanford set a deadline of December 31, 2011 for the supervisors to make a decision on whether to accept the money for the improvements. But the university has since expressed a willingness to push that date back until the end of 2013.

County staff is recommending the board accept the offer to postpone the deadline, in order to spend more time considering what would be the best course of action.

In both 2008 and 2010, the board has declined Stanford's offer to construct trail improvements along Alpine Road.

And last month, Supervisor Carole Groom again voted against pushing the decision back because she stated she was unconditionally opposed to accepting the university's money.  

If the supervisors elect to decline the university's offer, the money would then be given to Santa Clara County for similar trail projects.

The offer to repair the trail comes as part of an agreement between Stanford and Santa Clara County as a trade-off for the school's ongoing expansion projects.

The Board of Supervisors will address this issue, and others, during the regularly scheduled meeting that begins at 9 a.m. in the Board Chambers, located at 400 County Center in Redwood City.

You can see the full Board of Supervisors agenda by following this link.

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