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City of San Mateo to Host Public Meetings on Controversial 101 Interchange Project

Image via the City of San Mateo from the presentation given on the project last year.

The City of San Mateo will host a pair of community meetings next week in San Mateo and Burlingame over the proposed 101/Peninsula Avenue Interchange project. The project is a familiar type: it would relocate the US 101 southbound on-ramps and off-ramps from East Poplar Avenue to Peninsula Avenue, to eliminate the partial interchange and create a single, full-access interchange at Peninsula and Airport Boulevard.

For more information on the meetings, visit the project website. The times and dates are also at the end of this post.

What makes these meetings more interesting than the typical "design and defend" community process often seen with large road expansion projects? The city is getting input on where and how to do the traffic study that will be completed this summer and used for the environmental review.

"Both San Mateo and Burlingame staff have provided input on the study locations. This meeting will provide an opportunity for the public to review the study locations and identify any additional locations that may have been overlooked," explained Gary Heap, the Engineering Manager with the City of San Mateo.

Peninsula Avenue and the interchange are located in the City of San Mateo, but are just south of Burlingame. And while the interchange project promises traffic relief, not everyone is buying it. Many residents of Burlingame and its government believe it will just shift more traffic onto them.

“I’m against this as it will turn my area into nothing more than a traffic thoroughfare,” said resident Laura Hesselgren, as reported in The Daily Journal. Hesselgren was one of 14 speakers at a December Burlingame City Council meeting who testified against the project.

While the project raises red flags for those familiar with the concept of induced demand, it also provides for new buffered bike lanes where the interchange will connect with the local street network. As the project moves forward, the buffered bike lanes could be redesigned to be fully protected or separated bike lanes.

"When we update our City Bicycle Master Plan later this Fall, we will consider locations for these enhanced bicycle facilities," said Heap who noted that the state did not allow for the construction of these lanes when the City last updated its Master Plan. Although: "We have installed protected bike lanes at a few locations already in San Mateo including on Grant south of Concar and on Norfolk near 3rdAvenue."

The construction of the bike lanes, be they buffered or protected, would provide a crucial link, if they fully connect to the bike networks in Burlingame and San Mateo.

"While still early in the planning and design phase, we are excited to see the City of San Mateo include buffered bike lanes in the Peninsula/101 interchange design from the get-go," explains Emma Shlaes with the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition. "We look forward to working with staff to make sure bike access and safety are a key component of the final design. Providing a high-quality bike connection along Peninsula Ave. will increase access for Burlingame and San Mateo residents to the Bay Trail and Coyote Point Park."

Currently, the interchange project does not have dedicated funds for full design or construction. A presentation made last November predicts that if everything goes smoothly for the project, construction could begin in 2022 and end in 2024.

Community Meetings:

    • May 16th at 6:30 p.m. Social Hall Burlingame Recreation Center, 850 Burlingame Avenue, Burlingame
    • May 17th at 6:30 p.m. San Mateo City Hall, 330 West 20th Avenue, San Mateo

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