Newell Road/San Francisquito Creek Bridge Replacement Project

September 3rd, 2015


Project Description
The City of Palo Alto, in partnership with the City of East Palo Alto and the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority (SFCJPA), through Capital Improvement Program project PE-12011 is evaluating options for replacement of the Newell Road Bridge over San Francisquito Creek. The existing bridge, built in 1911, requires replacement to accommodate a 1% (100-year) flood event. Replacing the bridge will enable the creek channel to convey up to the estimated 1% creek flow rate and mitigate the risk of flood. The design and aesthetics for the replacement bridge will be subject to review by the following review bodies: City of Palo Alto – Architectural Review Board, Planning and Transportation Commission and City of East Palo Alto – Public Works & Transportation Commission, Planning Commission. There are five alternatives under consideration for the replacement Newell Road Bridge (listed below in Project Status). The City has secured funding for project design and environmental assessment, 88.5% is coming from Caltrans’ Highway Bridge Program and 11.5% from Santa Clara Valley Water District.


Project Status
NV5, Inc. and ICF International, the project design consultants, have begun conducting studies that will support the EIR and assessing the potential impacts of the project alternatives. The EIR process is expected to take one year to complete. The bridge replacement alternatives include the following:

  • No project alternative (leave existing bridge in place)
  • New bi-directional one lane vehicle bridge with traffic signal control
  • New two lane vehicle bridge using existing bridge alignment
  • New two lane vehicle bridge with a partial realignment with Newell Road in East Palo Alto
  • New two lane vehicle bridge fully realigned with Newell Road in East Palo Alto


Project Background
The abutments of the existing Newell Road Bridge over San Francisquito Creek are located within the creek bed, causing a flow constriction in the channel of the estimated 1% (100-year) flow event. The Newell Road Bridge is one of the bridges under study by the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority (SFCJPA) that needs to be removed or replaced to accommodate the 1% flood conveyance capacity in the creek and increased flood protection to area residents and businesses.

On July 11, 2011, City Council approved a budget appropriation for a new capital improvement project to replace the Newell Road Bridge and authorized staff to accept the Caltrans Highway Bridge Program grant funds to pay for the majority of project’s design costs.

On April 9, 2012, Council approved a contract with Nolte Associates, Inc. (now known as NV5, Inc.) for the design and environmental assessment of the replacement bridge.  Council also approved a cost share agreement with the water district to provide local matching funds to supplement­ the Caltrans funding.

Based on concerns shared by residents in previous community meetings and technical analysis, the City identified the five project alternatives to be analyzed in the environmental document on February 27, 2014. Alternative 4, a two-lane bridge on a full realignment of Newell Road, was requested by the City of East Palo Alto’s City Manager, Magda Gonzalez (see letter below).

In June 2015 the project resumed after an extended delay due to funding issues with Caltrans and Santa Clara Valley Water District.


Project Documents
August 2015 Notice of Preparation of an EIR/Environmental Assessement in English or Spanish
April 2015 Staff Report ID #5549
March 2014 Letter from East Palo Alto City Manager
February 2014 Community Meeting Presentation 
February 2014 Alternatives Screening Analysis Report (including the associated Traffic Study)
February 2014 Technical Appendices to the Traffic Study
June 2013 Staff Report ID #3599 (including contract amendment and detailed scope of work)
January 2013 Community Meeting Presentation
November 2012  ARB Presentation
November 2012 Bridge Selection Report 
October 2012 Community Outreach Summary
September 2012 Traffic Analysis
June 2012 Community Meeting Presentation

Project Contacts
Public Works Engineering Services Division
Project Manager: Joe Teresi (650) 329-2129
Project Engineer: Rajeev Hada (650) 329-2469



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