Study aims to bridge isolated Fair Oaks

The Fair Oaks area is less than a mile from downtown, but gridlock, big streets and few good options for pedestrians and cyclists make it difficult to get from one to the other without a car.

At the same time, residents who live east of Woodside Road have less money and rely more heavily on public transportation. That fact helped Redwood City attract a $153,000 grant from the California Department of Transportation to dream up better transit options for the area bounded by Spring, Chew and Chestnut streets and Douglas Avenue.

Now, Redwood City is putting that money toward studying what barriers exist for residents in Fair Oaks, Redwood Village and Stambaugh-Heller who don’t have cars or who would like to walk and bike, said project manager Jeannie Young.

“The pedestrian connections are very challenging — there has to be a better way to provide connectivity,” Young said. “At this point we don’t know what the solutions are. That’s the purpose of the study.”

Redwood City has commissioned MIG consultants for $170,000 to study transportation connections in the area, talk with residents and transit officials, and develop a game plan by the end of 2008. That will help the city leverage grant money to make MIG’s recommendations happen, Young said.

Some connections exist, such as a pedestrian bridge over Woodside Road, but it’s inconvenient for many in the area, said resident Kathy Soulard. Her husband, Mark, cycles from their Redwood Village home to San Mateo but treks over to Bay Road rather than use the overpass.

Costco’s plans to expand its warehouse store on Middlefield Road drew concern from neighbors who already have a tough time cycling through that corridor.

“Middlefield is so congested already — it’s a bicycle route, and cyclists wanted to be sure that was acknowledged and preserved,” Soulard said.

In the meantime, Redwood City officials are hoping to expand shuttle service that already takes commuters from Caltrain to their jobs along Broadway. Once it expands, it would help Fair Oaks-area residents get downtown and back, said Christine Maley-Grubl, director of Peninsula Traffic Congestion Relief Alliance.

Though that shuttle was scheduled to launch last summer, it’s going to take some time to plan the most effective route, Maley-Grubl said.

“We want to ensure we’re providing a service that complements services that already exist, and we want to ensure that this is something that will be really successful,” she said.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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