News

Eroding bank prompts closure on Stevens Creek Trail

A portion of the Stevens Creek Trail has been temporarily closed after recent storms caused severe bank erosion along Stevens Creek, creating unsafe conditions along the heavily-used trail.

The strong wind and rain caused a large portion of the bank to slough off along the trail side of Stevens Creek last week, leaving only a few feet between the edge of the trail and a steep drop to the roiling waters below. The unsafe conditions prompted city officials to close off a section of the trail spanning from Yuba Drive to just north of the El Camino Real underpass. A detour has been set up to guide trail users onto Yuba Drive and westbound El Camino Real as an alternate route to get around the closure.

This is the first time inclement weather has forced a trail closure along Stevens Creek, said Bruce Hurlburt, the city's parks and open space manager. There is no estimate for when the trail will be reopened to the public.

Engineers from the Santa Clara Valley Water District began inspecting the creek with an eye toward potential repairs on Wednesday. Devin Mody, the district's watersheds operation and maintenance manager, told the Voice that creek repairs can take anywhere from one day to months, and have to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. The conditions along Stevens Creek, particularly the wet weather and higher water flows, are likely to slow the process down.

Quick fixes typically include adding riprap or boulders to provide resistance along the eroded bank, Mody said, while more significant repairs involve shoring work and "sheet piles" to retain the soil and prevent further erosion.

Hurlburt said the closure is not in an ideal location, and that there aren't a lot of good options for a detour. One option included blocking the trail south of El Camino Real and guiding trail users along eastbound El Camino Real, crossing the busy Grant Road and Highway 237 intersection, but the existing detour appeared to be the safer of the two options.

The hope, Hurlburt said, is that the water district staff soon will be able to give the city an estimate on when the trail can be safely reopened.

"I'm really hopeful that their engineers will be able to shed some light on what we're looking at, because right now it's just not safe and we can't have people out in that area," he said.

According to the National Weather Service, starting Wednesday and, with periods of respite, running through Monday, three weather systems will dump from between 1 inch and 3 inches of rain throughout the Bay Area, with the heaviest downpours expected in the North Bay, according to forecaster Steve Anderson. On Sunday, another round of wet weather is expected to arrive and will taper off Monday afternoon, leading to mostly clear weather into the rest of next week.

Information on the status of the city's trails is available at www.mountainview.gov/trails.

Comments

4 people like this
Posted by MW
a resident of another community
on Jan 16, 2017 at 2:51 pm

Dang. From the photo this looks really bad. I'd guess this is going to be a BIG job -- heavy equipment, bank reconstruction, $$$, etc. I don't expect it reopen any time soon. Rats.


Like this comment
Posted by O
a resident of Castro City
on Jan 16, 2017 at 3:17 pm

Wimps. We, as in neighbors and friends, fly to the Himalayas to hike up single track paths with 1000 foot drops.


41 people like this
Posted by Jeff
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 16, 2017 at 3:25 pm

O

And this adventure seeking contrast relates in what way to a paved, multi-use public pathway in the middle of a California town? Mighty heroic of you to point to it, though.


18 people like this
Posted by commuter
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 16, 2017 at 7:12 pm

Is a map of the detour available, please?? A lot of people use this bike path to get to work or to school. So much safer than biking on city streets during rush hour. Thank you.


14 people like this
Posted by Nicolás Arizmendi
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jan 16, 2017 at 7:45 pm

The great thing about this situation is that, I will not have to worry about bicyclists invading my lane while going on my morning run.
To the people who commute by bicycle, this trail is a freeway.


4 people like this
Posted by Eric Lehman
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 16, 2017 at 11:13 pm

Hard to imagine how this could be fixed before summer. Much easier to imagine that upcoming storms will extend the collapse further, eating into the trail itself. As far as I can tell, the current detour is "play real-life Frogger on El Camino". I wish there were a better alternative!


20 people like this
Posted by Ross Heitkamp
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jan 17, 2017 at 9:33 am

I have posted a map of the detour on the Friends of Stevens Creek Trail website at Web Link
It is just slightly longer and does go out onto streets or sidewalks, but won't delay you too much.

You can be confident that our city knows how important this trail is to the community for both commuting and recreation and will do everything they can to get this reopened as soon as they can make it safe.


7 people like this
Posted by Tyler Mchenry
a resident of another community
on Jan 17, 2017 at 9:39 am

The posted detour is this: Web Link

Note that cyclists traveling southbound must dismount and walk on the sidewalk for the portion along El Camino Real (otherwise you'd be riding against traffic).


2 people like this
Posted by Annie
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 17, 2017 at 9:46 am

Couldn’t help but noticing all the garbage in the shrubbery, how did it get there and who is going to clean this up? Or will it ‘disappear” by itself when it floats to the bay / ocean? I would be happy to help.


26 people like this
Posted by Trail rider/walker
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 17, 2017 at 9:54 am

Sorry Nicolás but it is not your lane, you are sharing it with those you pass and who pass you. Please stay to the right when you use this multi-use trail. It is so great to have this asset in our community that promotes exercise and reduces car traffic. We all must be respectful of each user. Bikes slow down and use your bell, walkers please stay to the right, dog walkers please keep your dogs on a short leash, and everyone lets go single file through the narrow sections.


Like this comment
Posted by Me
a resident of Willowgate
on Jan 17, 2017 at 10:51 am

cyclists are allowed to ride on the sidewalk any direction, just like people walking.


16 people like this
Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on Jan 17, 2017 at 10:55 am

@Annie:

You are free to go down to the creek with a garbage bag and clean it up yourself. Many of the local beaches and coastal waterways are periodically cleaned up by neighborhood groups, grassroots environmental organizations, or larger planned events such as the Surfrider beach cleanups or California Coastal Cleanup Day.

Note that if the debris drifts away in the creek, the problem isn't solved, the problem simply moved elsewhere. And likely something that is further upstream will take its place here.

Cleanups are not a one-time only thing. They need to be done periodically.

If you have ever driven on any of this planet's roads, you will notice that there is trash and debris on the roadway and shoulders. Even if it gets cleaned up, more stuff will take its place. We wish that weren't the case, but sadly that's the way the universe functions.

We don't have trash collecting drones yet.


6 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Willowgate
on Jan 17, 2017 at 11:15 am

Stevens Creek & Trail Clean-up
Saturday April 15, 2017 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon

Web Link


12 people like this
Posted by Ross Heitkamp
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jan 17, 2017 at 12:08 pm

Folks, please don't go down the banks to clean up trash, especially right now. The creek is currently flowing at several hundred cubic feet PER SECOND. That is a mighty force and if you were to fall in you'd be swept far away with possibly fatal consequences. Also, climbing down the banks causes more erosion.

I am afraid the trash you see on the banks is going to have to stay there for the time being. Depending upon the weather, there may be a chance to clean it up at the April Trail Cleanup, but I expect the creek will probably still be flowing strong this year and it will need to wait until later.

The best we can do is to keep trash from getting into the creek in the first place. Keep the trail clean.


2 people like this
Posted by Flushing
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2017 at 2:00 pm

Much of the trash comes from the "Campers" along the creek. When they closed The Jungle camp in SJ, our local "Campsites" became more populated and more numerous.


6 people like this
Posted by PA Resident
a resident of another community
on Jan 17, 2017 at 2:39 pm

I have tried to walk along this trail but in fact it is far too onerous. My companion and I were unable to stroll side by side chatting, instead we had to walk single file and watch out for large groups of people on bikes who sped by as if they were on the tour de France.

Is this supposed to be a bike highway or a pedestrian recreational trail? As far as I can see, it can't safely be both.


26 people like this
Posted by MV Resident
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jan 17, 2017 at 2:42 pm

@PA Resident,

It's a multi-use trail, so people of different modes of transit are meant to use it.

To be honest, though, Palo Alto residents should be barred from using it until they give us access to Foothills park.


5 people like this
Posted by Darin
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2017 at 3:29 pm

Darin is a registered user.

Re: cyclists are allowed to ride on the sidewalk any direction, just like people walking.

Yes, cyclists are allowed to ride on the sidewalk in either direction (except where prohibited by local laws), just like pedestrians. But for your own safety, when riding on the sidewalk, ride slowly and be prepared to yield at every driveway/intersection. Motorists do not expect cyclists moving at vehicular speeds on sidewalks, and they especially do not expect cyclists moving at vehicular speeds in the "wrong" direction.


6 people like this
Posted by Steve
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 17, 2017 at 4:15 pm

"I will not have to worry about bicyclists invading my lane while going on my morning run"

Unfortunately I still have to worry about runners invading my lane while going on my morning walk. *sigh*


Like this comment
Posted by Me
a resident of Willowgate
on Jan 17, 2017 at 5:23 pm

@steve

Time for a 3 mph speed limit ;)


2 people like this
Posted by Darin
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2017 at 3:10 pm

Darin is a registered user.

Re: Time for a 3 mph speed limit ;)

Great. Now people who walk quickly can get speeding tickets...


15 people like this
Posted by @PA Resident
a resident of another community
on Jan 18, 2017 at 11:26 pm

PA Resident, I bike and walk on the Stevens Creek Trail a ton. The overwhelming percentage of cyclists are very careful and polite when passing pedestrians. The overwhelming percentage of walkers are mindful and polite towards cyclists. The trail is an amazing community asset that, again, the overwhelming percentage of users make compromises so that all can use it safely and enjoyably. Strollers, Seniors, kids learning to ride bikes, everyone. Yeah, there are a few idiots and they have a disproportionate impact, but what do you do?

When I ride in the Palo Alto Baylands, I find dog walkers who let their near invisible leashes cross an entire trail, a pair of walkers who will go down the exact center of a trail and NEVER yield, and cyclists on their cell phone.

I like @MV Residents suggestion a lot. We paid for the Trail, just like your grandpa paid for Foothill Park. Dont feel the need to go to concerts at Shoreline either.


Like this comment
Posted by mike
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jan 19, 2017 at 2:39 pm

The detour using El Camino Real is a deathtrap. I protested against tunnels to the city of Mountain View at every community forum. The dark tunnels are dangerous for all users. Entry from sunshine to darkness, coupled with the sharp turns at the entrances creates a dangerous situation, also the dark tunnels are not visible to law enforcement.
I once was entering the tunnel at El Camino, and noticed a women with an empty child stroller. U slowed down and encountered the child playing in the middle of the trail in the tunnel.
Overpasses may seem too expensive, but the are safer and don't flood out.
We told you so...


Like this comment
Posted by I_Got_Mine
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jan 19, 2017 at 4:43 pm

The improvement should be a level with the creek bed trail. This design has been used with success under Speer Blvd in downtown Denver. Yes, we light the tunnels too. Yes, there are times when the bike trails get standing waters of a couple of inches during a Spring Runoff. Guess what? THE BICYCLISTS SLOW DOWN when that happens. We still have the pedestrian lights on the intersections and 4 way crosswalks. No worries about trail damage when a trail is properly designed. Your Boulder Google Campus employees will find MORE properly designed trails to ride on. Cut the bank wide enough for the trail, then set rip-rap and ( hopefully ) rock bolts to prevent erosion by anchoring the rip-rap. Yes, light the tunnels as part of the project. A cheap investment for safety and a possible solution to campers in the tunnels at night.


4 people like this
Posted by Mike Dropper
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2017 at 6:44 pm

Yes, I_Got_Mine is ready to help pay for all his great, albeit very expensive ideas. Lets roll.


2 people like this
Posted by Fred
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 22, 2017 at 8:49 am

FYI, this is the actual detour Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Climbert8
a resident of another community
on Jan 29, 2017 at 12:06 am

@Flushing, the assumption that the trash is from the campers, basically homeless people, is reactionary and not based on any evidence. Among the creek bed, of the bike trail, there are two or three shopping carts that look like they've been tossed from the overpasses, a few plastic totes that look like they've been used to teach high to paint graffiti, very large numbers of used spray paint cans, which is very much a suburban rebellious wannabe boy thing, large numbers of beer and soda cans the deposit on which no camper would forgo, surprisingly large number of golf balls from the golf course upstream, disposable plastic water bottles from the people who need to pay $1 for convenience water and dog shit bags. Almost all of the above is non camper trash, but no clothing or food trash that one would associate with homeless tent dwellers.


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