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14 Resident's Consensus Thoughts on San Francisquito Creek Floodwalls and Pope/Chaucer Street Bridge Replacement

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Date: Mon, 9 Jun 2014 08:16:21 -0700

14 Resident's Consensus Thoughts on San Francisquito Creek Floodwalls
and Pope/Chaucer Street Bridge Replacement

June 9, 2014

To: San Mateo County Flood Control District Board of Directors

Cc: City Council of Menlo Park, City Council of Palo Alto

Please carefully consider the points enumerated below in this letter,
it is signed by 14 Palo Alto and Menlo Park residents.

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

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

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

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
June 9, 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 Mon Jun 09 2014 - 08:14:14 PDT

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