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Progress on Community Investments in Public Safety, Parks, Transportation and More

Improvements to parks, roads, public safety infrastructure and flood plans are underway. These projects help further Council priorities and community needs addressing community health, public safety, transportation and sustainability. This community update provides a status on Boulware Park and Rinconada Park enhancements, Public Safety Building construction, Charleston-Arastradero Corridor road improvements, and a new Fire Station №4. It also shares Caltrans-led improvements on El Camino Real and where to report safety concerns and other road conditions.

FIVE YEAR CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM: $720.5 MILLION INVESTED IN 170 PROJECTS

Keeping Palo Alto a high-quality place to live is reflected in its investments in community infrastructure, programs and City services, including furthering parks enhancements, and roads and public safety improvements.

Palo Alto’s 2022–2026 Capital Improvement Program invests $720.5 million supporting 170 projects. Since July 2016, the City has completed 87 individual community-serving projects totaling over $284 million in improvements.

Since June 2022, and despite the COVID-19 pandemic, significant milestones have been achieved, such as the completion of the Highway 101 Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge project in November 2021, significant progress on the Charleston/Arastradero Corridor Project, the start of the Public Safety Building construction and reopening of the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo.

Current Infrastructure Plan project schedules can be found at http://www.infrastructure.cityofpaloalto.org/.

The Public Safety Building will offer 56,000 square feet of space within a three-story structure and operational yard and is centrally located in the middle of Palo Alto to enhance public safety services to the community and is scheduled to be complete by fall 2023. It will house the Police Department, 911 Emergency Dispatch Center, the Emergency Operations Center, the Office of Emergency Services, and the administration needs of the Fire Department. Key features include a public plaza with a main entry on Birch Street, and multi-purpose training room and community meeting space and will be located at 250 Sherman Avenue, next to the new California Avenue Area Parking Garage.

The Public Safety Building (PSB) project made significant progress in June 2022, with construction 50% complete. Staff is starting to work on procurement packages for furniture, fixtures, and equipment (FF&E) and will return to Council for contract approvals starting this fall.

Learn more here.

The Community has been keenly interested in the Boulware Park Improvements project, as it will both improve the existing park and incorporate the Birch Street property (acquired by the City in 2019) into the park — renovating both parcels into a beautiful open space for the community to enjoy. Improvements include a new playground, dog park with synthetic turf, game and picnic tables, ADA improvements, and the incorporation of public art into the facilities.

The community-based design of the project is complete and is expected to go out to bid in November 2022, with construction beginning in early 2023.

Learn more here.

The City held a community celebration, Party in the Park, in May 2022 to celebrate the re-opening of the park following phase 1 renovations and coordinated the grand opening with the official celebration/reopening of the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo and Solar System exhibit.

In 2017, the Council adopted the Rinconada Park Long Range Plan (LRP) to upgrade the park in phases over 25 years. The $1.95 million Phase one improvements was completed in March and features upgrades to safety, site amenities, playground facilities, irrigation, drainage, restroom, and accessibility improvements in the western half of the park.

See the Rinconada Park Phase 1 ribbon cutting in action here!

Design of Phase 2 improvements recently kicked off and will include renovating the eastern half of the park by 2024, including pathway improvements, a new restroom facility; renovated and expanded group picnic areas, native and habitat planting, irrigation improvements, ADA upgrades, directional signage, site furnishing, lighting, and green infrastructure elements. Future phases would include enhancements to the arbor area, development around the electrical substation, and renovation of the pool area, and increased connection between surrounding cultural and community assets.

Learn more here.

The 2.3 mile Charleston-Arastradero Corridor serves as an east-west connector for the southern section of Palo Alto, and has seen a major upgrade to better serve the community. The corridor will soon boast new foliage, landscaped medians, curb extensions/bulb-outs, enhanced bicycle and pedestrian improvements, and traffic signal modifications consistent with the existing striping/roadway configuration.

Learn more here.

Fire Station №4, which opened in 1953, is in the process of being replaced with a new facility that meets modern earthquake design standards and current essential services standards. This new station is being designed for LEED Silver certification, is expected to open by the end of 2025.

The new building will support community public safety through enhancements like an Emergency Operations Center (EOC)/Training room, Watch room office and public restrooms, two drive-through apparatus bays and a stand-by apparatus bay, firefighter living quarters and a Captain’s Office. The project is currently in the Schematic Design phase, which includes public outreach for input. Design work is scheduled to start in June 2023 and construction is anticipated to begin in April 2024.

Learn more here.

CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS IMPLEMENTED BY OTHER AGENCIES

There are a variety of capital improvement projects being implemented by other agencies that impact our CIP and daily life in Palo Alto. Here are a few of note:

El Camino Real (State Highway 82), which is maintained by Caltrans, is undergoing significant improvements because the Pavement Condition Index scores are much lower than the average for Palo Alto streets. Staff has been communicating with Caltrans about the upcoming plans to repave El Camino Real from the Mountain View to Menlo Park borders, with work currently planned for 2023. We are aware of challenging road conditions on parts of El Camino Real and when a community member shares concerns with us, we send those directly to Caltrans staff.

The community can also submit a request directly to Caltrans here.

The $2.44 billion Caltrain Electrification Project is scheduled to be done by fall 2024. Most of the construction for Caltrain Electrification in the City of Palo Alto has been completed, including the installation of all the foundations, poles and wires for the project within the City borders. Construction is continuing near Page Mill Road which is scheduled to be finished in fall 2022. Recently, staff was informed of Caltrain work at several crossings in Palo Alto related to the electrification project. As more details are known, this blog will be updated.

Learn more about the project overall through an informational video here.

The City Council Rail Committee is currently charged on behalf of the Council with discussing different aspects of the City’s grade separation conversation. At their October meeting, they held a Study Session to review comments received from various stakeholders to refine conceptual plans for the Partial Underpass Alternative at Churchill Avenue and the Underpass Alternatives at Meadow Drive and Charleston Road.

For the Rail Committee agendas and minutes, go here.

Santa Clara Valley Water District is working on a project to replace the existing tide gate structures built in 1957 to drain the flood basin. The structure, located where the Palo Alto Flood Basin (PAFB) connects to the San Francisco Bay, has outlived its 50-year projected life and is vulnerable to projected future sea-level rise. Upon completion, the new structure will provide significant flood protection benefits to Palo Alto homes, businesses and schools near Matadero, Adobe and Barron creeks, and US Highway 101, and will continue to protect wildlife and habitat in the PAFB.

The 90% Plans, Specifications and Engineer’s Estimate (PS&E) were submitted to Palo Alto in February 2022 for review and comment. Staff provided comments in March 2022. Santa Clara Valley Water District continues to work with the regulatory agencies to secure the permits required to start construction, which they anticipate will start in September 2023 with completion in 2027.

Learn more here.

MORE ONLINE RESOURCES

Learn more about the City’s capital improvement projects here.

For more on the City’s budget, go here.

For the City’s Adopted Capital Improvement Program budget, go here.

For more on the City’s Adopted Operating Budget, go here.

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