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Consensus Thoughts on Pope/Chaucer Street Bridge Replacement

From: domainremoved <Jim>
Date: Fri, 14 Feb 2014 16:32:45 -0800

Consensus Thoughts on Pope/Chaucer Street Bridge Replacement

February 14, 2014


San Francisquito Creek JPA Staff & Board

Santa Clara Valley Water District Staff

San Mateo County Flood Control District Staff


City of Menlo Park

City of East Palo Alto

City of Palo Alto City

San Mateo County District 4 Supervisor Warren Slocum

Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian

This letter is in response to a request for community input by the Santa
Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) regarding alternatives for the
Pope/Chaucer Street Bridge Replacement Project that their Project Team has
developed at the direction of the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers
Authority (JPA).

We share the concerns of residents who suffered damage during the 1998
flooding, which was close to a 40-year event. During severe flooding
events, the existing Pope/Chaucer Street Bridge contributes to overflows of
the creek into Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, and Menlo Park. Thus, we support
the first of the Project's goals and objectives as outlined in the May 2013
"Notice of Preparation Draft Environmental Impact Report San Francisquito
Creek Flood Protection, Ecosystem Restoration and Recreation Project
Upstream of Highway 101 (NOP)." This first goal is to "protect properties
and infrastructure between Highway 101 and El Camino Real from floodwaters
exiting San Francisquito Creek during a 100-year flood event."

According to the handouts prepared by the SCVWD for a community meeting on
January 29, 2014, the Project Team has developed two bridge alternatives
that would "ultimately provide up to a 100-year flow conveyance and improve
flood protection to the community." "The creek capacity improvements being
analyzed include: bridge replacement, channel widening and naturalization,
floodwall construction or enhancement, underground bypass culvert, and
upstream detention facilities."

Our view, shared by many residents, is that improved flood protection is
needed and can be achieved without damaging this wooded riparian corridor
that we value not only as an integral and essential part of our
neighborhoods but also as a vital part of the ecosystem of southern San
Mateo County and northern Santa Clara County. We agree with the January 23,
2014 comment of JPA Chair Kirsten Keith on the future of the Creek,
"Floodwalls are a non-starter."

Therefore, our recommendations to the JPA and the SCVWD for the program
between El Camino Real and Highway 101 are as follows:

1. All efforts to provide flood protection utilizing floodwalls should
be abandoned. The environmental damage of this approach would be too
severe. The increase in water velocity and flow would exacerbate the
on-going problem of creek bank erosion such as that which occurred during
the floods of 1955, 1998, and 2012.

2. Because the two bridge replacement alternatives presented at the
public meetings on January 15 & January 29, 2014 were designed to work in
conjunction with floodwalls to provide future 100-year protection, all
efforts to further develop these two designs should be abandoned.

3. Diversion just upstream from the University Avenue Bridge,
illustrated as "Potential Alignment 3," (see appendix) is also unacceptable
because it would still be necessary to construct floodwalls in areas
upstream from the University Avenue culvert inlet to either 600 feet or
1800 feet past the Pope/Chaucer Street Bridge.

4. 100-year flood protection can be achieved through diversion upstream
from the Pope/Chaucer Street Bridge alone or in a combination of upstream
diversion and detention. Examples of diversions used as part of a 100-year
flood protection solution include:

4.1. an underground bypass culvert starting a little upstream of the
Middlefield Road Bridge, down Willow Road to the Bay as listed in the NOP
("Potential Alignment 1"), or

4.2. an underground bypass culvert starting upstream of the Pope/Chaucer
Street Bridge at Seneca Street and down Hamilton Avenue rejoining the creek
via Greer Road just upstream from the Highway 101 Bridge ("Potential
Alignment 2"), or

4.3. an underground bypass culvert starting upstream of the Pope/Chaucer
Street Bridge at Guinda Street and down Channing Avenue rejoining the creek
via Greer Road just upstream from the Highway 101 Bridge (illustrated in
appendix map 2).

5. Therefore, the Pope/Chaucer Street Bridge should be replaced with a
new bridge that accommodates a 40-year flow without floodwalls or
headwalls. The design of the new bridge should be limited to accommodating
flows that approximate the flooding experienced in 1998. The replacement
bridge should not allow for any future upgrade or expansion aimed at
increasing flow capacity within the creek itself.

6. The new design should have minimal impact to existing trees and
vegetation in the creek channel and along the creek bank with an emphasis
on preservation of the natural habitat and aesthetic appearance of the
bridge area. Every option that enhances and preserves the riparian woodland
and stream habitat of the Creek should be pursued. Therefore, we support
the second Project goal on the NOP to "enhance habitat along the Project
reach, particularly habitat for threatened and endangered species."

7. In addition to the alternatives listed on the handouts of January
29, two other options were presented orally at this meeting. One was to
remove the Pope/Chaucer Street Bridge and not replace it with a new bridge.
Since this was mentioned at the meeting, we recommend that the Draft
Environmental Impact Report include an analysis of the impacts of this
alternative. A traffic study would be needed.

8. The other alternative that was presented orally was to keep the
existing Pope/Chaucer Street Bridge and do nothing to address flooding. We
do not support this alternative. If nothing were done, there is sufficient
history of flooding in recent times to understand what the impacts to the
community would be.

9. We recommend that the new Pope/Chaucer Street Bridge not be designed
in isolation. This piecemeal approach should be abandoned. Instead, we
recommend that this bridge should be designed in conjunction with upstream
diversion and detention to address 100-year flooding. Our reasoning is as
follows. According to the January 29 handout, the Pope/Chaucer Street
Bridge is "one of five bridge replacement projects that are necessary
elements for a comprehensive San Francisquito Creek flood protection plan
upstream of Highway 101." It is apparent that the design of each and every
bridge is interrelated with each and every solution that is proposed for
the 100-year flood possibility. For example, if approach 4.1 above were
adopted instead of approach 4.2, the design for the Middlefield Road Bridge
could be different because the flood flow at the bridge would be smaller.
Another example is that upstream diversion alternatives would allow for a
smaller, more ecologically sensitive design for the Newell Street
Replacement Bridge. The same is true for the Pope/Chaucer Street Bridge.

10. We recommend the same comprehensive approach for the design of the
other four bridges in this section of the San Francisquito Creek.

It is not our desire to unduly delay long-awaited flood protection efforts.
However, finalizing a decision on specific bridge designs should not occur
until program alternatives have been analyzed and their environmental
impacts determined via the California Environmental Quality Act process.


David Andeen, Homeowner, Emma Lane, Menlo Park

Lori Callaghan, Homeowner, Emma Lane, Menlo Park

Virginia Davis, Homeowner, Oak Court, Menlo Park

Ray Elliott, Homeowner, Woodland Court, Menlo Park

Peter Joshua, Homeowner, Pope Street, Menlo Park

Caroline Knopf, Homeowner, Palo Alto Avenue, Palo Alto

Maria Makela, Homeowner, Palo Alto Avenue, Palo Alto

Jack Morris, Baywood Avenue, Homeowner, Former Mayor of Menlo Park

Gwyn Murray, Homeowner, Laurel Avenue, Menlo Park

Dennis Parker, Homeowner, Wisteria Avenue, East Palo Alto

Gretchen Orca Tucker, Homeowner, Palo Alto Avenue, Palo Alto

Judith Vacchino, Homeowner, Russell Court, Menlo Park

Andy Vought, Homeowner, Edgewood Drive, Palo Alto

Jim Wiley, Homeowner, Woodland Avenue, Menlo Park

Pope/Chaucer Street Bridge Replacement Appendix

February 14, 2014

Map 1

For on-line text-only readers, map 1 is available at

Underground Bypass Culvert: Map depicts potential alignments of underground
bypass culverts.

Red: Potential Alignment 1. Green: Potential Alignment 2. Orange:
Potential Alignment 3.

 Underground bypass culvert options 4.1 and 4.2 presented as potential
alignment 1 and 2 at the January 29, 2014 public meeting.

On the Underground Bypass Culvert map included in the handouts at the
January 29 meeting, it appears that "Potential Alignment 3" (under Woodland
Avenue in East Palo Alto) corresponds with "Project Alternative 3" in the
"Notice of Preparation " (NOP). This alternative includes a "new bypass
inlet located a few hundred feet upstream from University Avenue." This
alternative states that "reduced channel flows, resulting from this bypass
culvert, would eliminate or greatly reduce the need for new floodwalls
downstream of the [University Avenue] culvert inlet," while "floodwall
improvements at locations upstream would be similar to those described in
[NOP] Alternative 2." Thus, as detailed on the January 29 handouts, it
would still be necessary to construct floodwalls in areas upstream from the
University Avenue bypass culvert inlet to 600-feet or to 1800-feet past the
Pope/Chaucer Street Bridge.

Map 2

For on-line text-only readers, map 2 is available at

 Underground bypass culvert option 4.3 in blue from A to B.

Received on Fri Feb 14 2014 - 16:33:27 PST

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