Grade separation for Lawrence Expressway?

Those of you who like the freeway-style feel of Central Expressway across Santa Clara County will love this: Santa Clara County Roads has a vision for a fully grade separated Lawrence Expressway. You’ll have an opportunity to learn more about these plans and provide your input at the VTA Bike / Ped Advisory Committee (BPAC) open house next Wednesday, June 12, 2013.

The county Comprehensive County Expressway Planning Study adopted in 2009 plans for a “high end expressway with freeway-like segments such a currently exist on Central Expressway.” 68,000 vehicle per day pass through the study area shown below.

Lawrence Expressway study

Legacy highway mindset collides with transit oriented future

Although the county roads department has no immediate plans nor the budget to make their automotive dreams into reality, the city of Sunnyvale is proceeding with their own plans to transform the area around Lawrence Caltran station into a transit oriented, pedestrian friendly development.

Current land use with huge parking lots fronting the commercial / industrial uses and low density housing within a half mile of the train station are not conducive to transit oriented development. New developments in the immediate area are being proposed, and city planners foresee changes due to the age of the current structures. They’ve begun the process of reaching out to stakeholders and current residents to ensure that the mix of uses and pattern of development supports transit ridership and provides convenient access by all modes (pedestrian, bicycle, transit, and auto) to the station. There’s a proposal, for example to raze the 16 acre Extreme Networks site (within the city of Santa Clara) and replace it with a mixed use development with 600 residential units, 56,000 square feet of commercial office and 32,000 square feet of retail. Extreme Networks sold their Santa Clara R&D center to a developer and will move their headquarters to Rio Robles Drive in San JOse next month.

The County Road department realizes the need to adjust their expressway plans to match the trend toward Complete Streets and transit oriented planning by cities through which the county expressway system passes, so they’ll be presenting their ideas at the next BPAC open house. They’re in the planning and design stages of this, so now is the time to give your input.

County road planners envision grade separation for Lawrence at Reed Avenue / Monroe Street, Kifer Road, and Arques Avenue. Currently, those intersections have wide radius turning lanes with pork chop islands, resulting in high speed merge zones that are already fairly ugly for cyclists.

You can make a difference

The timing is important because California’s improving budget situation this year means counties and cities in high growth areas (such as Santa Clara County — the fastest growing county in population and employment in California) will see tax revenue windfalls over the next couple of years, and they would love to spend that money on high dollar capital projects like freeways and stroads.

To learn more and provide your input, show up at the VTA BPAC open house at 6:30 PM on Wednesday, June 12, 2013. They’ll also discuss road paving projects (chipseal, boo!); shoulder widening on Uvas Road, Stevens Canyon Road and Clayton Road (yay!); resurfacing various local streets (yay!); and a project to improve the I-280 / Page Mill Road interchange.

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