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Palo Alto Bike Bridge Connects Neighborhoods

The Bay Area is becoming more bike friendly by the day. The long-term goal is to reduce motor vehicle use and increase alternative forms of travel such as walking and bike riding. The City of Palo Alto is the latest to contribute to those goals by opening a bike and pedestrian bridge over U.S. 101.

The project began 18 months ago and finished a month before its scheduled completion. Now cyclists, scooter riders ebikers and pedestrians can all cross over U.S. 101 on the yet un-named bridge that connects Clark Avenue in East Palo Alto and Newell Road in Palo Alto.

The idea for the project came years ago, but design disagreements and funding problems created delays that eventually ended in November of 2017 when workers broke ground. Now a year and a half later, users can now stream across safely crossing one of the areas busiest highways.

Master Plan

The bridge fits within long-term plans to give those wanting to dump their cars for other viable travel options. Before, walkers and cyclists had to use the Benjamin Lefkowitz underpass, a seasonal and flood-prone passage that is usually closed for winter and part of the spring. The only other options were to use the Embarcadero Overpass couple miles to the south that was built in the 1950s and is no longer compliant with federal and state accessibility standards or to drive across one of the existing bridges.

The new bridge allows users to ride or walk along a 12-foot wide, class I bike path that enters in East Palo Alto on Clarke Avenue, crosses U.S. 101 and then turns north from Clarke Avenue on the Palo Alto side and descends to Newell Road to the north or to West Bayshore Road to the south.

The bridge also connects Palo Alto, the heart of Silicon Valley, to the Baylands in East Palo Alto and their recreation and shopping centers. Previously, the best way to get across 101 was to drive a car, and this gives people another option.

Features of the New Bridge Project

The $14-million project features a 12-foot wide path for travel in both directions for walkers and riders. The bridge is well-lit for safety featuring LED lights along with safety screens where the bridge crosses the busy lanes of traffic.

Other features of the bridge include:

  • New Crosswalks on Newell Road and Clarke Avenue
  • An Adobe Creek Trail Head
  • Existing Bay Trail Connection
  • ADA Compliance Accessible Ramp from East Bayshore Road
  • Bay Overlook Scenic View