News

Google: Bridges will be open to the public

Google has responded to an apparent misunderstanding at last week's City Council meeting that its proposed bridges over Stevens Creek will not be open to the public.

Several City Council members expressed strong feelings against Google-only access to the bridges on Tuesday. A spokesperson for Google contacted the Voice Friday to clarify the issue, saying that the bridges, while technically privately owned, would be open to "essentially anyone who wants to use them."

Walkers, bicyclists and those coming through on public transit buses and shuttles would have access over the bridges, the Google spokesperson said, but regular car traffic would not.

"We want to minimize impact to the trail," the spokesperson said, calling the goal of the proposal "mutually beneficial."

The bridges would allow access to a new 1.2-million-square-foot Google campus at NASA Ames that Google hopes to build in 2013. The bridges are an important part of the plan, the spokesperson said.

At Tuesday's council meeting, council members Laura Macias and Ronit Bryant made strong comments against exclusive access to the bridge. Bryant and Mayor Jac Siegel criticized its impact on the natural environment in the upper wetland area.

At Tuesday's meeting Macias said the bridge should be open to anyone, "not just a certain group or class of people. That doesn't feel like Mountain View at all."

In an email on Monday Macias said Google's plans were "crystal clear" to her when she made her comments Tuesday.

"Starting out with proposed private bridges is a rash proposal as these are public lands on all sides," Macias said in an email. "I was out walking SCT this weekend between Crittenden and Charleston on the trail-- the entire wildlands, wildlife, outdoor experience would be destroyed. This is a migratory bird path and development in this nature hardly seems "green" to me." Macias added that an environmental impact report is needed to address those concerns.

The tone at Tuesday's meeting was surprisingly critical from a majority of the council.

"My gut feeling is extremely negative on this," said Council member Bryant. "I don't think it is of any benefit to Mountain View. I don't see anything particularly convenient about it for us. I hate private streets. I can't imagine a private bridge."

Bryant commented again on Saturday in response to Google's clarification.

"I remain very concerned about overwhelming the North Bayshore environment with concrete, asphalt, and vehicular traffic," Bryant wrote in an email. "I welcome better connectivity for bikes and pedestrians, and as a City we have worked and continue to work hard to improve connectivity and reduce the need for cars. The proposed bridges are an easy old-fashioned solution that will conflict with the purpose of the Stevens Creek Trail as a pedestrian and bike-friendly connector; why not look for an out-of-the-box and innovative solution that will enhance our environment?"

The reasons why the public would want to use the bridges, the spokesperson said, would be convenient access across the creek to R.T. Jones Road at NASA Ames, which is currently inaccessible. There would also be new ways to access a short trail along the eastern edge of the creek, though it is already accessible by a light vehicle bridge at Crittenden Lane and a foot bridge further north.

Google also released an official statement on Friday about the bridges.

"The purpose of the Stevens Creek Crossings Project is to both increase connectivity in the North Bayshore area as well as access and mobility for pedestrians, bicyclists, emergency shuttle vehicles and public transit. We believe this project will benefit the city of Mountain View and the community at large. We look forward to working with all parties involved to achieve these mutually beneficial goals."

See the full story on the bridge from Tuesday's council meeting here.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Double standard
a resident of North Whisman
on Jul 11, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Why don't you ask Microsoft about their policy of using their grass that border's the Stevens Creek Trail? I remember running alongside on their grass only to have MSFT security kick me off the grass, saying I needed to stay on the trail and the grass was private property. Mtn View is so quick to look at Google... why don't you also look at MSFT too? Thanks for reading.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by FarmerFrog
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 11, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Ronit Bryant still doesn't get it - even with clarification. Google has said the bridge(s) would be closed to regular vehicular traffic. It's like these people think of worst-case-scenario and can't get it out of their heads...even when it's been explained otherwise.

As someone who uses Stephens Creek often, I would like the chance to use a bridge to take me to a different path. If it's open to the public - and Google is footing the bill - let them build the dang bridge.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mr. Rogers
a resident of Jackson Park
on Jul 11, 2011 at 2:36 pm

"The reasons why the public would want to use the BRIDES........"

Poor brides!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Laura Macias
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Jul 11, 2011 at 3:08 pm

In reading the staff report several times about the Google private bridges and the addendum written by Google, where they say "private Stevens Creek bridge crossings" on page 1 of the staff report and on attachment 4 where Google states "vehicular traffic will be controlled for access by high-occupancy transit, other business park service vehicles (?) and emergency response vehicles",  I think it is reasonable to assume that private meant private.  
Meaning that management of the bridges on public lands, hard-earned public trails, across public creeks and public embankments are proposed by Google with private bridges and private management.
At the Study Session, the Google reps stated that "if the city  wanted  public bridges, the city would have to pay for them". Not much misunderstanding in that. 


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Happy trails
a resident of Gemello
on Jul 11, 2011 at 3:24 pm

The bridge sounds like a good idea to me. I like it that they plan to restrict vehicular traffic, but will allow public bikers and pedestrians to have access. The extra transit path for emergency vehicles and high-occupancy vehicles makes sense and is in keeping with safety and environmental standards. It is unclear from council member Macias' statement what her ideal plan would be: does she want the bridge to be open to car traffic from the public? That would have an unfortunate impact on the trail. The current proposal makes sense and would be an asset to those of us that bike and walk the trail.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by how much traffic?
a resident of another community
on Jul 11, 2011 at 3:39 pm

How many motor vehicles per day will use these bridges? Will they be required to yield (i.e. stop signs) to pedestrian and bicycle traffic on the trail?

A couple of shuttle buses per day may not be a big deal, but one every few minutes is completely different.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Lo
a resident of another community
on Jul 11, 2011 at 4:16 pm

Didn't Google have a spokesperson at the City Council meeting who could have clarified that the bridges were supposed to be "public" then? If so, and they didn't say anything at the time, then it seems like they're just declaring that it is public and a "misunderstanding" now after-the-fact to save face.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jul 11, 2011 at 5:33 pm

Everyone is way over-thinking this. Let them build the bridges. Everyone benefits: the city (that's us, people) doesn't have to build and maintain the bridges, we can use the bridges for walking or biking, there is increased access without increased traffic, and Google gets what they want also. That's good, because google pays Mountain View a lot of money, Google employees spend a lot of money on Mountain View businesses, and Google homeowners pay a lot of taxes and keep property values up. Just build the stinkin' bridges.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bruno
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 11, 2011 at 5:36 pm

"The reasons why the public would want to use the bridges, the spokesperson said, would be convenient access across the creek to Rte Jones Road at NASA Ames, which is currently inaccessible. There would also be new ways to access a short trail along the eastern edge of the creek, though it is already accessible by a light vehicle bridge at Crittenden Lane and a foot bridge further north."


So access to a road that runs parallel to a private area and a bridge that leads to a short path to the Southeast that is already accessible via another bridge. I wouldn't call that an asset.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mymy
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Jul 11, 2011 at 8:28 pm

It makes sense to let Google build the bridges so they can access their new campus on Moffett Field easily. The question is, do they go over the trail or connect with it. I say let them connect so that the public has access as well.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Doug Pearson
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 11, 2011 at 9:45 pm

Your point about "access across the creek to Rte [sic] Jones Road" is misleading in that the bridges are not planned to be anywhere near the road and incorrect in that the name of the road is R T (or maybe RT) Jones Road, named for a famous Ames scientist of the 20th Century, Robert T Jones, sometimes known as R.T.

R T Jones Road ends, according to Google Maps, near the point where it meets Wright Ave (yes, named for the Wright brothers), which goes through the guarded gate there into the Ames campus. It may or may not be that NASA or Google has plans to extend R T Jones Road -- I know nothing about that.

If the new Google campus will be outside the Ames Campus (like, for example, Hanger 1) all it takes to get through the gate is a Driver License or other Government-issued ID. However, there is another, separately fenced and gated area casually referred to as the Ames Campus and to get through that gate you have to have a NASA ID badge.

Either way, to get beyond the Moffett Field perimeter to the Google campus may similarly require an ID. The city should rightfully be concerned about that requirement, in my opinion, but in the final analysis, the ID requirement will be a NASA requirement, not a Google requirement.

If the city wants the bridge to be public they can require that and Google can decide whether they want to pay for it or do without. Just as the city is not required to pay for construction of roads in subdivisions (the developer builds the road as part of the construction of the development) they will ultimately be required to maintain Google's bridge if they want it to be public.

I have mixed emotions about whether the Stevens Creek Trail crossing should be at grade. Restricting the bridge to "pedestrians, bicyclists, emergency shuttle vehicles and public transit" may help limit interference with the trail in the case of an at grade crossing.

The area where Google is planning its campus is very low lying land. I would be concerned about the effect of rising sea level, if I were Google and NASA.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jul 12, 2011 at 8:35 am

Build the bridges in the day of cutting budgets, shrinking money, it will help trail users who have to work in the area. As for Private Property. Yes it will be private but built on public land. It is mostly a plan to get their employess around but that is ok, rather have them use a foot bridge then drive.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Major Ity
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 12, 2011 at 10:22 am

I keep hearing how Google puts a lot of money into MV. That's true, but lets not forget the people who put MORE money into MV that Google. Namely, the rest of the citizens. That said I'm still open to the idea of a public bridge, I'll make my final decision when all the details come out. Initially it was to be private, then Google backed down and said it'd be open to the public. Those are the kinds of details that can change and affect my support. Lets wait until the final plan is up for a vote before we thumbs up or down it right away.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rossta
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 12, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Rossta is a registered user.

What many seem to be missing (and I was, too) is that there are already bridges that serve pedestrians and bicycles perfectly well in nearly the exact locations of these proposed bridges . Adding a bridge closer to 101, near La Avenida would be a new benefit. Adding public roads though Moffett Field and NASA Ames would be a benefit. But the bridges, as proposed, offer NOTHING to the public.

And, the idea of a privately controlled bridge built on public land sounds completely WRONG to me. As with many developments, it would make sense to have the bridge be privately funded and built, but then deeded to the city for ownership and control. That doesn't rule out Google paying a bridge toll to cover annual maintenance for their nearly exclusive use.

Let's keep this in perspective.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Political Insider
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 12, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Its obvious some council members fail to understand the public/private distinction. Just because a bridge is privately built and owned does not mean it is is closed to the public. Starbucks is a private firm but open to the public. Some parks are privately owned but open to the public.

Bryant hates private roads. Does she hate all private property? She keeps referring to cars on the bridge even though Google made it clear what type of vehicles would have access. Still clueless.

"the entire wildlands, wildlife, outdoor experience would be destroyed. This is a migratory bird path and development in this nature hardly seems "green" to me."

More silliness. You have to wonder how the council staff puts up with all this nonsense. Its one of the reasons I retired from city work. Council misstates the obvious, staff politely corrects and council members still remain oblivious to their ignorance.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Healthy Suspicion
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 13, 2011 at 8:38 am

You think Google would try and charge a fee for non employee use of "Their" bridge? Its a great way of ensuring very little use by the general public. Yah it'll be open to the public...after you pay the cost of a yearly pass. They can use the old "Its a fee for continued bridge maintenance" line. Since its a bridge that would be owned by them what would stop them from doing that? They just put a card lock on the gates and voila...a "public" bridge that in reality will only be used by Google and a handful of people who might see value in paying a fee.

With existing bridges in the area its questionable whether we need yet another one, but _IF_ a bridge is built we should have guarantees it will be FREELY ACCESSIBLE to the general public and free of any gates or locks.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Seriously
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 13, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Seriously.....Google wants to build a bridge what's the harm. It is obvious that the intent is for pedestrian and bike traffic. And that is would be large enough to support an emergency vehicle shoudl the need arise. I don't see a problem with that. It's not going through anyone's yard in a forcible way. Google I doubt needs the revenue as commented above from selling an annual pass, ridiculous. They are open in sharing their facilities and resources with the community with the schools and local agencies and I see their bikes being abused on a regular basis by people that I cannot imagine are google employees on the trails and in all areas of town at varying times of the week and day, (primary unaccompanied minors.) They are very giving to the community and the public services including but not limited to the mobile library. Give them a break and apprecaite them being a part of our community. SERIOUSLY!!!!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Prudent
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jul 14, 2011 at 4:55 am

@Seriously, I think you missed the point of several posters here. The
idea of charging a fee would't be for revenue but rather to try and enure minimal usage by non employees since that is what Google initially came out and said they were proposing "A private bridge"
Once the screaming started Google took a step back, but their initial intent was made very clear.
When Google comes out and tells us why the EXISTING 2 BRIDGES in the immediate area are no good for them, I say hold off.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by eric
a resident of another community
on Jul 14, 2011 at 3:23 pm

The proposed bridges go nowhere except to Google's leased property. Google does not allow the public onto their campuses.

So, even if the bridge were public, you couldn't actually USE it for anything.

For or against the bridge, keep it in context. There is no public benefit here.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bruno
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 14, 2011 at 5:35 pm

@ Eric,

But we could ride it up to the fence before security tells us to turn around. How cool is that!?! AND NO PICTURES!!!!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by PH
a resident of another community
on Jul 15, 2011 at 9:20 am

Many construction projects require street and access and other upgrades to public property at the developers cost, so why should this be any different. Google wants these bridges fot their gain and the reasons seem clear and practical, so why not have them pay for it and require that the environmental impact be minimal as well as a good solution concerning the trails. Public land needs to remain acdceessible to all and this should be the driving force in the design of the project. Careful planning and construction could be a win for everyone.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by PH
a resident of another community
on Jul 15, 2011 at 9:21 am

Many construction projects require street and access and other upgrades to public property at the developers cost, so why should this be any different. Google wants these bridges fot their gain and the reasons seem clear and practical, so why not have them pay for it and require that the environmental impact be minimal as well as a good solution concerning the trails. Public land needs to remain acdceessible to all and this should be the driving force in the design of the project. Careful planning and construction could be a win for everyone.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by No Public Need
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 15, 2011 at 10:42 am

Can anyone tell my why Google is incapable of utilizing the current bridges in the same immediate area?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bruno
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 15, 2011 at 11:30 am

I'm still trying to figure out how it's good for everybody. It seems to me that Google gains a lot more than the average SCT user. Not sure what the benefit is to the trail user.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sheldon
a resident of North Whisman
on Jul 15, 2011 at 5:47 pm

Good job city council for standing up to Google on this. If they mean what they are saying now, Google should donate the $ needed to build a bridge to the city. Then the city can upgrade the single bridge at Crittenden (where there is already a bridge). We can build the bridge and use it together like one big happy family.

"Building bridges" get it?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by C'Mon
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 19, 2011 at 10:48 am

It would be MUCH easier to simply pave the dirt portion of the trails on the south side of the creek that connect to EXISTING BRIDGES and paint some yellow lines. Pave it right up to the Google property if they want. There's no real need for additional bridges, just "cleaner" access to the existing bridges via adding some pavement along the south bank dirt trail that is already there. Now THAT might benefit the community, making another area of the creek more accessible to all.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by James
a resident of Castro City
on Jul 19, 2011 at 3:57 pm

I think Google wants design control so its a "Cool" bridge. I guess those FULLY USABLE, perfectly good bridges that already are in place aren't cool enough since they tend to blend in to the area, as much as a bridge can. No, I think Google has something more special in mind, like a big fancy noticable bridge, something that will dominate the landscape and scream GOOGLE! to all the people who come to see the natural aspects of the creek area. Mmmm, sounds greeeeeat.
How about just saying "Nah, no thanks" and be done with it. The idea stinks.


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