Redwood City’s ‘big mess’ may be cleaned up soon

Some have called the Woodside Road interchange on Highway 101 — one of the Peninsula’s busiest — “a big mess,” but city officials and the California Department of Transportation are hoping to change that.

The Woodside Road interchange, used by about 13,500 cars each day, is hampered by traffic snarls and unsafe conditions for bicyclists and pedestrians where Woodside crosses Broadway Street, according to Redwood City traffic engineer Richard Heygood.

Plans to reconfigure that interchange at Highway 101 and Woodside Road are being developed through Caltrans and the San Mateo County Transportation Authority, but Redwood City Council members Monday said they were unimpressed with the proposed alternatives.

One proposed alternative would widen the Woodside and Broadway intersection to 14 lanes, while another would end Veterans Boulevard in a cul-de-sac, forcing traffic up Broadway

right into the heart of downtown Redwood City. Both would

revamp some offramps on either side of the freeway for smoother passage onto and off Highway 101.

Councilmember Alicia Aguirre said 14 lanes of traffic were too many for pedestrians, especially given that the city’s main post office is near the Broadway and Woodside intersection.

“Fourteen lanes is rather frightening,” Mayor Barbara Pierce agreed.

But many at Monday’s meeting liked the idea of simplifying the ramps and routing cars up Broadway rather than Veterans, creating a kind of welcome mat for motorists heading into the city’s burgeoning downtown.

“This reconfiguration is long overdue, both for commerce and for the community,” Councilmember Jim Hartnett said.

Caltrans has upgraded a number of Highway 101 interchanges in the Peninsula, including those at Oyster Point Boulevard and Ralston Avenue. Others, including Peninsula Avenue on the San Mateo-Burlingame border, will be reconfigured in the coming years, according to Rich Napier, director of the City/County Agency of Governments.

Caltrans has been planning the Woodside reconfiguration since 2000, according to spokeswoman Gidget Navarro. The project is estimated to cost $56 million, of which $4 million has been set aside.

Because upgrading interchanges can cost $30 million to $60 million or more apiece, agencies are also working on other measures, including adding auxiliary lanes on Highway 101 to smooth traffic. A project adding 10 miles of auxiliary lanes between Millbrae and Third avenues, set to go to bid later this summer, will cost roughly $95 million, Napier said.

Traffic modeling will be necessary to determine whether either of the proposed alternatives will actually fix existing problems, according to City Manager Ed Everett. If one of them is selected, the designs could be completed by 2010, and construction could begin in early 2011, Navarro said.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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