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In The News

Saltworks may mean headache on roads
Report finds project could pump 7,000 more cars into rush-hour traffic

BY BONNIE ESLINGER
Daily News, 2/23/11

Although criticism of the Saltworks Redwood City project has focused on the very idea of plopping a mini-city onto the baylands, questions also are being raised about whether the area can handle the extra traffic such a development could create.

If 12,000 homes, office buildings, stores, schools and parks are developed at the Cargill property east of Highway 101, the Saltworks project could add 6,000 to 7,000 vehicles to rush-hour traffic, according to a preliminary report done by consultants for Redwood City.

Hit particularly hard would be the Highway 101 intersections at Marsh Road, Woodside Road and Whipple Avenue, which already are at capacity, the report notes.

Of the concerns voiced by the public about Saltworks, traffic is “one of the most consistent themes,” said Blake Lyon, a senior planner for the city.

Traffic will be the subject of an open house tonight in which city officials and representatives of the project’s developer, DMB Associates, will present information. It is the last of the so-called “scoping” meetings intended to solicit public feedback on issues that will be addressed by a state-mandated environmental impact report. The scoping comment period for the Saltworks project ends on March 31.

City officials have repeatedly said they will not make any decisions until the environmental review has been completed, possibly several years from now.

Representatives of Arizona-based DMB Associates say they don’t anticipate the Saltworks project will create a lot of extra traffic. One main reason is that many of the people expected to live in their development are the same ones now commuting to the Redwood City area from other cities and counties, they say.

As for Saltworks residents who work elsewhere, DMB representatives say transit links and employer shuttle buses will provide some answers.

“Saltworks is bringing solutions,” DMB Senior Vice President David Smith said when asked about the potential traffic increase. DMB proposes to create a road parallel to Highway 101 that will lead cars from the Marsh, Willow and Whipple intersections into and out of the new 1,436-acre development.

But the new road would require some property acquisitions in the area, which the preliminary report acknowledges could be a “significant challenge,” enough so to possibly scrap the idea altogether.

“That’s part of what the city needs to understand about their proposal,” Lyon said. “How are they approaching those topics of right of way or roadway acquisition? If they cannot acquire that, what does that do to the overall distribution?”

In addition, a plan to incorporate some form of a transit loop that connects Saltworks to downtown and existing transit — possibly a city streetcar — needs to be fleshed out, according to the report.

Within the development itself, the roadway system is well-designed and encourages bicycling and walking, according to the consultants. As currently proposed, the Saltworks development would include 8,000 to 12,000 residential units, five schools, 1 million square feet of offices, 140,000 square feet of commercial and retail space, 20 athletic fields, a 200-acre bayside park and 436 acres of restored wetlands.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Redwood City is holding an open house to present the traffic-related components of the proposed Saltworks development.

WHEN: Tonight, from 6 to 9 p.m.

WHERE: VeteransMemorial Senior Center, 1455 Madison Ave., Redwood City MORE INFO: www.redwoodcity. org/saltworks

 

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