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University wins $10.4 million grant for local trails

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors awarded $10.4 million to the City of Palo Alto and Stanford University in a unanimous vote on Nov. 20. The funding will be used to construct a bicycle bridge across U.S. Route 101 at Adobe Creek and to improve recreational trails that surround the University.

The board approved three projects from a five-project proposal jointly submitted by Stanford University and the City of Palo Alto for an interconnected trail network. The proposal was backed by local law enforcement, Palo Alto Unified School District and a number of area businesses.

Stanford plans to use $4.5 million for the new Stanford Perimeter Trail, which stretches along Junipero Serra Boulevard, Stanford Avenue and El Camino Real. The trail will be designated for public use.

Additionally, $1.5 million will be used to extend the bike and pedestrian path along the Matadero Creek levee and $4 million for the design phase of the Adobe Creek overpass bicycle bridge. The board also approved $400,000 for extensions to the Ravenswood Bay Trail, to be completed by the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space district.

The decision ended a 12-year debate over the trails that started in 2000 when Santa Clara County issued a new General Use Permit (GUP) to Stanford allowing the University over two million square feet in new and expanded buildings. The agreement required Stanford to build trails, one in Santa Clara County and the other in San Mateo County, to compensate for the potential loss in recreation opportunities resultant from the new developments.

In December 2011, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors rejected Stanford’s offer to improve the Lower Alpine Trail, which reverted Stanford’s $10.4 GUP payment to Santa Clara County. The County then established a grant program through which government agencies and nonprofits could submit proposals for recreational opportunities using the funds.

President of Stanford Campus Residential Leaseholders James Sweeney Ph.D ’71, Provost John Etchemendy Ph.D. ’82, Palo Alto Vice Mayor Greg Scharff and Palo Alto School Board President Camille Townsend cosigned a Nov. 2 open letter to the community that encouraged people to contact the Santa Clara Board of Supervisors to support the University’s proposal.

“The Palo Alto and Stanford proposal – alone of all the proposals submitted – would provide immediate recreational opportunities to precisely the population for whom these funds were intended to serve,” the letter said.

The University will hold three community meetings to discuss the approved Perimeter Trails.

About Alice Phillips

Alice Phillips is The Daily's Managing Editor of Copy. Previously, she has served as the paper's Deputy Editor, a News Desk Editor, and a Staff Writer. She is a Film Studies major from Los Angeles.