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on Dec 23, 2013
I'm glad this article was labeled "Viewpoint," as it has a very pro-development bias couched in terms of "environmentally reasonable" sounding jargon. How much development is "enough" development at Shoreline and along the Bay over the next 10, 20 50, 100 years? A little bit here and a little bit there and nature, wildlife and natural beauty will all be gone before the next 10 years are up. After reading who on the Council is for and who is against further study of this issue, I won't be voting for Chris Clark again. He has passed himself off as an environmentalist, yet time after time votes with the developers. Enough! Let's get creative and find other ways to move people. Google should be working on 21st century technologies that will move people, not buses and bridges that further destroy the environment.
The Google Bridge should be studied, but not out of context. The correct place and time is part of he overall plan for North Bayshore.
Go Google Bridge Go!!! I am all for it.
PS I am retired and not Google employee, nor Google stockholder.
Why not a tunnel? Why does it have to be a bridge? A tunnel will not obscure the visual line of sight. It will minimize the impact to the environment. And most importantly, the GOOG can pay for every penny of it!
I have seen many comments for the North Bayshore Precise Plan that are concerned about traffic impact and proposals to mitigate the impact.
These proposals include new bridges over 101. In most, if not all, cases these bridges are dedicated to transit vehicles. One proposal specific to light rail is for an extension from the Bayshore/NASA Station north of Bayshore, through Moffett Field/NASA Ames and crossing Stevens Creek. Another light rail (or personal rapid transit) proposal is for an extension from the Downtown Mountain View Transit Center crossing Central Expressway and 101 on its own bridge. If both light rail extensions are actually built (a BIG if) I would expect them to meet, forming a Bayshore/NASA Station-Downtown Mountain View-North Bayshore loop.
I think we need to keep in mind that Shoreline Blvd is not the only bridge across 101 to North Bayshore: San Antonio Road, Rengstorff Avenue, Old Middlefield Road (Permanente Creek), and even Moffett Blvd and Ellis Street are other options.
It just seems rational to me that, some place or other, another bridge will be needed across Stevens Creek. My suggestion for the location is closer to 101 than to Charleston Road. Maybe somewhere in the vicinity of Microsoft or the movie theater complex.
Rapid increase in our high tech sector exasperates both prosperity and poverty.
• Higher "median income" equates to unaffordable housing.
• Unaffordable housing, more homeless.
• More high-density housing, less parking.
• More traffic, lower quality roads.
• More pollution, disappearance of open space.
• Increased population, strained resources.
To me it is next to insanity NOT to build a bridge over Stevens Creek at Charleston Rd. Without it anyone wanting to go between the 2 Google campuses will only add to the traffic. It's like closing the Bay Bridge any making people use other routes.
There's no point in studying the bridge option unless there are 4 votes. The no-growthers will never change their minds and the owl-lovers are misguided in thinking the bridge will damage the environment. Google will get their way eventually since they are using federal land on the one side. They are merely going through council as a formality and not as a requirement.
It seems our city council is willing to support continuous densification of our city but are reluctant to support the infrastructure needed to support the increased body count. Perhaps Google should look into an electric monorail system like the one at Disneyland. This would have the coolness factor that our simple minded council people seem to favor.
I like Chas's idea of different alternatives. While a Disney-like monorail system would probably carry too many people for Google's Mountain View-NASA/Ames campus connection, a Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) variation might be more to Google's liking. And have the coolness factor that our council people seem to favor.
For more general information about PRT systems, see Web Link. I favor a PRT system that travels on its own roadway in the sky, like Disney's monorails. I also like the driverless feature of PRTs and the ability to get on and off at self-selected stops like horizontal elevators. In this sense, a PRT is like a monorail, although there is nothing intrinsic to the PRT concept that requires a single "rail". The elevated roadway and electric operation would minimize the environmental impact at the bridge across Stevens Creek and elsewhere. The Walt Disney World monorails in Florida travel over natural landscapes for part of their trips where I have seen deer and birds ignoring the monorail. I would expect even less impact from the smaller PRT vehicles.
Also, because they have their own roadway, PRTs would reduce traffic on city streets.
Web Link - Perhaps useful to look at the location of the proposed bridge on a satellite picture. From left to right: Charleston Road, some office building, tree movers inc., a bunch of high voltage power lines, trucks parked on a gravel road, the levy for Stevens Creek with the Stevens Creek path on top, then the creek with bushes, then the other side, which has some gravel path and a transformer station.
It's a nice bike path, and I've seen egrets in the creek bed. But neither would be impacted significantly by a bridge for pedestrians, bicycles, and shuttle buses. Talking about impact to the scenery / views is just slightly ridiculous here - the scenery is roughly "office space / light industrial with a green patch".
Forcing the shuttle buses to sit in traffic instead of adding this bridge to shorten some trips dramatically is just nuts. It appears that common sense is lost on those four members of the city council.
Nobody is forcing Google to build a second campus. Maybe that property should go to a different company, so there is less concern about campus-to-campus traffic? There's a lot of need for office space, so I'm sure another company would be glad to fill that slot.
It's fun to hear all of the pro-developer chatter on this board. They don't care about the environment, think global climate change is a hoax and just want to ruin our beautiful city. Good to hear that there is still some sense on the council.
The City Council created this mess.They approve every piece of crap development that comes along.
Every one of the pro-bridge articles like to call this a bike and pedestrian bridge even before it being a shuttle connection. But the bikes and pedestrians already have a bridge at Crittenden Lane across Stevens Creek and to the site of the new Google building. So, don't be fooled. This bridge is all about providing access for motorized vehicles.
@Rossta and others: What is wrong with a shuttle connection?
If you look at the transportation study, it's pretty clear that car travel is the pig. This is the case already - Shoreline and the connections to the freeways get clogged up regularly, and they impact parts of Mountain View, not just the freeways and Shoreline.
Shuttles are a good way to reduce these single occupancy car trips; having a bridge that's shuttle only can avoid that the shuttles are stuck and traffic, so it makes them more attractive, and it's a reasonably cost-effective and practical thing to setup.
This here is really what's happening when people take a shuttle instead of traveling by car: Web Link
Not everyone can live in Mountain view (but for the record: I do!). Since shuttles are a very efficient way to move people around (in terms of space, in terms of pollution, etc.) it should be fairly clear to all of you that blocking such programs effectively doesn't just make people's live a misery (commuting already sucks), it also damages the environment. You all should be happy that you have such an amazing company in the midst of Mountain View - Google actually really cares for the environment. Cheers.
Thank you for providing the link to City of Mountain View Shoreline Transportation Study June, 2013. It makes for interesting reading. I would like to see Google build an Intercept Parking garage for Google employees as part of their planned NASA/Ames development. That way, their employees who work in North Bayshore , particularly those driving from Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, san Jose, etc., could park and take the shuttle, just like at Disneyland.
The transportation study is based on the assumption that Mountain View absolutely must cram thousands of additional people into North Bayshore - an area close to the bay that is vulnerable to sea level rise and liquefaction. Maybe its time to re-examine the growth allocation in that area. In the end, its always the public that pays for the consequences of misguided development in the wrong places.
Bridge of dreams. If we keep buying more buildings they will build our bridge? So the bigger question is why can't everyone use it? Maybe make an Air Tram for just people and bikes? A Tram from Castro then everyone would use Lt rail more. Over the bay rail cars like in FL. Electric cars only bridge?
Maybe I am mistaken, but I keep thinking I hear that places like shoreline east of 101, redwood shores, foster city, etc. will have severe flooding problems within the next decades due to global warming. Yet, development seems to never discuss how this will be addressed or even if it needs to be. What am I missing?
On another point: What is the big draw that makes Google want to stay here? Will that still be here in 20 years? What is protecting that? Can it exist elsewhere?
I don't see what is so bad about a study. The current bridge across the creek is not wide or really smooth enough for serious bike commuting (IMO) It is possible to make minimal-impact "recyclable" bridges of steel. See the large span brides build in sections for Stevens Creek trail across Central/CalTrain tracks and across various points of Stevens Creek (say at Dana St.). NASA AMES land is not going to sit idle, it needs to interconnect.
Google may be gone in 50 years! Look at Lockheed! (or rather - try to find it now!). Reasonable urban development can adjust over a half century - if done well in the first place.
Why study what is already known? There is no case for allowing massive business that must interconnect between various areas north of Bayshore that are traditionally separated. Google is expanding over into Palo Alto too and they can interconnect with existing roads for that. In the case the big issue is actually the fact that the infrastructure for the Ames property is insufficient to provide for the kind of development Google is doing. That development is outside the purview of the city and this is an end run around asking them to beef up that infrastructure for Ames's campus. It makes no sense whatsoever to divert traffic over to the Rengstorff/Shoreline interchanges as overflow. They may be 4 to 6 lanes wide but they have no spare capacity.
The truth is that Google's proposals are specious in a number of ways. Their busses run around at 10% of capacity polluting the roads, hiding the fact behind dark glass. They are way worse than cars with their massive diesel engines. All along Stevens Creek, the natural barrier separating Ames from the Shoreline office park, are massive berms on both sides of the creek. These berms are essential to protect in the case of rising bay water levels or in the case of heavy rains draining from all the way into the foothills to the Bay. Goggle simple mindedly proposes to cut into these two berms on either side to run a bridge through at lower cost. This is an incredibly short sided shortcut. Moreover, this traffic of diesel busses heading over the Creek will disrupt wildlife all along and within the creek. It's a no go in toto because of the cheap profit oriented nature of the plans.
@David - Your claim that "Goggle simple mindedly proposes to cut into these two berms on either side to run a bridge through at lower cost" is not true. If you refer to any of the renderings Google's design team has done for this project, you'll see that they are proposing a bridge that would go OVER the berms on both sides of the creek, not cut into them. Part of the rationale is so that people biking and walking on the existing Stevens Creek Trail should not be inconvenienced by the new crossing. You can see renderings of the bridge (prior to the project being scaled back from 2 bridges to 1) in the agenda packet for the November 15, 2011 City Council meeting on the web.
Also you make the claim that "Their busses run around at 10% of capacity polluting the roads, hiding the fact behind dark glass." What evidence do you have of your claim? Or perhaps are you just bad-mouthing Google's shuttles because it's now the cool thing to do (a la the protestors in Oakland and The Mission)?
G O O G L E. C I T Y!
Let's Change The City Name From MV City to GOOGLE CITY!
G O O G L E like Developers PLASTERING the City with CEMENT and CONCRETE.
If I came up with a SELFISH and IMPOSING idea that would RUIN one of the more natural areas we have, and then proposed to the city that they should study it, I would hope they would ALSO close the door in my face and essentially say. "No, and don't come back with a variation. This will not happen so think of something new"
If this selfish proposal by Google continues to be brought up, its time for a citizen action group to be formed to Stop the Steven's Creek Bridge!
I'm not much of an activist, but in this case, I'll come out and stand on the line. Its too important not to fight it. Perhaps a ballot measure prohibiting new bridges along that corridor is also in order.
@ OMV Resident
Great reply. Most of the posters on this blog have made several claims that are simply untrue or provided subjective comments that represent their personal bias against the bridge. A study would show that this bridge would have little impact on the creek and its limited wildlife.
I think if money were wasted on a study, it would actually show little to NO impact on traffic in the area, benefiting ONLY Google as they continue to try and access public lands for their own private use, eventually leading to private freeway accesses I'm sure.
Its truly the most selfish and arrogant proposal Google has made, and the city is right not to waste dime one of our money for a study. No Google, you can't grab a chunk of one of the most beloved areas in MV in order to build a bridge/OVERPASS that ONLY Google can use. No, its not up for discussion...do you understand? NO!
Its pretty clear what Google is trying to get at here: If you can get off the freeway before the clog, you could then shuttle Google employees from the giant parking lot(future project I'm sure)through the nice and quiet Steven's Creek area and over to the main campus.
Shuttle buses will be used, so imagine this sequence, it happens each time a single bus stops and starts: Engines whine down as it slows to the bridge, followed by the "PSHHHH" of the brakes releasing, then that common "GRROOOOWL" as the bus picks up speed again. While not constant, this would likely be an all day thing in this spot.
A bus overpass is really what it is, for Google only, forever changing the Steven's Creek Trail which acts as an oasis from the very thing Google is proposing. Thank you MV City Council for your wisdom on this one.
I should have been clearer in what I said. Google originally proposed 2 bridges, and only one had the monstrous flaw of breeching the berms on each side. This flaw was so great that it is clear that proposal was a strawman designed to allow them to 'compromise' by dropping back to a single bridge. That bridge is still very environmentally disruptive. Google uses every tactic to get their way. It is still true that there is no overall need to link the two sides of Stevens Creek north of 101 by busses. This is a Google-only benefit that facilitates their desire to do extreme office developement on the site of the Naval Air Station/NASA complex that normally would involved increasing the feeder bridge over 101 for Moffet Boulevard.
If you look carefully you can see inside these busses at times and discern that they are very lightly occupied. There is no supervision of the process to prove that they are running at reasonably usage levels. Google insisted on a year delay before allowing other to share use of the busses which will increase their occupancy. Then the truth will be known. The developer of the new Samsung R&D complex proposed immediately that it operate shuttles open to the public. The city wants a combined operation between all the companies operating such shuttles in the N. Bayshore area. Intuit agreed to participate and said they already don't check ID's and anyone can board their busses. Google said they needed a year or more to work out a way to let the public share their busses. It can only increase utilization and reduce waste to have a combined operation with public access. Google didn't think of this on their own. Perhaps if this were in service there would be less opposition to extending it to Moffet Field.
I agree with "David, a resident of another community" that the combined shuttle idea is a good one and expect Google to join (in less than a year, I hope) with other North Bayshore companies in the "combined operation with public access." The combined operation is indeed likely to be more cost-effective than the current multiple operations as well as being public. I hope Microsoft will also support the idea, if they do not already do so.
I treasure Stevens Creek and the Stevens Creek trail as a wildlife sanctuary but I've walked the part from the Microsoft trail head to El Camino a few times (and north to Shoreline Park and south to the Sunnyvale border at least once). I say this from experience: There are plenty of places along the trail where it's already impossible to ignore the traffic noise from freeway 85, 101, and even 237 and nearby streets. That's one of the reasons I have suggested that a bridge across Stevens Creek should be located closer to 101. Perhaps as an extension to Charleston Road or La Avenida Street.
While there may not be enough traffic potential for a light rail or bus route that stays north of 101 and connects Ellis Street and the NASA-Bayshore light rail station to Shoreline Blvd I think a broader study than just Google's bridge is called for.
I like Stevens Creek trail. I do not want more bridges buses noise and traffic and fumes over it.
The absolute best way Google can get on people's "S" list in Mountain View, is to mess with the Steven's Creek Trail. At least the Council know better.
Should "At Least" study? what does at least actually mean? A study would look at HOW to build a bridge - not whether or not its a good idea in the first place to build a Google Serving Bridge. The main purpose of that bridge anyway is to boost Google's property value in North Bayshore.
Actually, since it is Google's proposal, it seems that Google should do the study. As I understand it, they propose to replace the current bride off of Crittenden Lane with one that will support Diesel buses. They had asked to put one in near L'Avenida where they would breech the berm on each side. The current bridge has various easements across it and is owned by Moffett. It was replaced 20 or so years ago. Now it provides access to hunters who hunt ducks in the Bay frontage off of Moffett coming in on Crittenden Lane. This bridge is near the Shoreline Nature Preserve entrance from Stevens Creek Trail and it is already raised up over the berm so constructing a bridge there is less expensive than by 101. There used to be a "Farmer's Field" at Moffet that was leased out for growing crops and this was how the tenants gained access to the field. Now that area is proposed for the huge new Google campus similar to what Facebook has done in Menlo Park.
Diesel buses?!?! Belching, hissing, and growling regularly in an area that citizens flock to to AVOID things like diesel buses. Go far far away with this idea Google, unless you want a good old fashions grass roots revolt.
@David -- "As I understand it, they propose to replace the current bride off of Crittenden Lane with one that will support Diesel buses. They had asked to put one in near L'Avenida where they would breech the berm on each side."
There are two false claims in the above statements. The current proposal is to put a bridge along Charleston, not Crittenden. Refer to, for instance, City Council materials for the Shoreline transportation study in spring 2013. And I'm not aware that Google EVER proposed a bridge near L'Avenida, let alone one that would breach the berms along the creek. If you have some article or city document you can reference to back up the latter claim, please produce it. Otherwise, you're just spreading misinformation, likely because you're opposed to the bridge proposal and want to confuse and scare people.
It's fine for people to have opinions against or for the bridge proposal, but please let's base this on facts and not just false claims posted on a local news message board!
I think we can all grasp the idea that running buses through that area would be a huge mistake, bridge or no bridge. That area is for all to find easy to reach peace and quiet. Yes, its not pristine, but its much nicer now than if buses were growling and hissing back and forth all day.
Sort of like the logic of not burning trash on a spare the air day: Don't make it any worse.
The creek area is not a blank chalk board where companies can start to propose building their own private roads to benefit only their workers, and the benefit being only convenience of travel for the workers of the company.
I've used the buses to get from Caltrain over to North Bayshore. I believe the Intuit free shuttle is one of these. It's great, it's useful (if a bit slow), and Intuit deserves credit for helping fund it. What everybody seems to overlook is that Google funds 2 or 3 other free shuttles open to the public from Caltrain. Exactly what Intuit is doing. It's Google's long distance buses that aren't open to the public. I don't know if Intuit has those, but if they do, I'm sure those aren't free and open to the public either.
Some excellent points by OMV resident. The anti-google crowd is afraid of a study because it will show a very limited impact from the busses. Except for looking at the bridge, there is no impact to trail users. There will probably be one bus going over the bridge every 10-15 minutes. Hardly a serious impact. There is also a big difference between private busses being underutilized and VTA. At least Google is paying for running underutilized and not wasting my sales tax money like VTA running empty busses along ECR.
There are a lot of details involved in all of this. CalTrain shuttles are different. CalTrain arranges shuttles up and down the Peninsula with lots of private funding. See this one in Mountain View: Web Link
This shuttle has run for at least 20 years as it was once funded partly by SGI when they had many buildings up in the Shoreline area. These are traditionally the little short buses with school bus type seats (sort of). This is not the same kind of vehicle as all these tech companies use to provide runs up to San Francisco and down to Los Gatos. This kind has air conditioning, recliner style seats, WiFi and tinted windows. The are much heavier and use more fuel, and they run generally for longer distances. You can see these running down Castro Street near El Camino Real in the evening. These are the ones which block traffic on Shoreline up in that area on the evenings that there are concerts at the Ampitheatre because they normally park in the concert parking areas and don't on the days there are actually concerts.
Regarding the 2 bridges and their potential locations and whether or not anyone ever proposed to breech the berm: There has been a lot of discussion of these 2 bridges. At times it has been presented that this would be an overall linkage between the Shoreline Office complex and Moffett as it develops Office Park like activities. Some have suggested that the logical place for a bridge is closer to 101, e.g. in the vicinity of L'Avenida (or actually what would be best would be if it could even be back in the Microsoft Parking lot closer still to 101. These aren't actual proposals. They would be less disruptive to wildlife, because the disruption there has already occurred.
Looking at some news coverage of the Google proposals, it appears they are more interested in annexing a back corner of Moffett onto the Shoreline Office Park area. Certainly their ground lease is for an area that is far removed from the entrances to Moffett. It is likely untenable to route all the Google traffic throough the Moffett entrance roads.
You can see this in this July 2011 article:
Even the police and fire service for the Google buildings and new expansion campus which will be massive is coming from the Mountain View police and fire infrastructure, which does none of the rest of Moffett.
Later on you can see the plans to cut back the original bridge proposal into merely upgrading the current bridge (which is meant for maintenance vehicle access only plus pedestrians and bikes.) and the building the one new bridge at Charleston Road. I don't know what is in the latest city council info packet, but this seems to be the gist of the request for sometihng to be studied. It is described here, in this April 2012 article:
The requests are for private bridges to serve Google interests only with no inclusion of the remainder of Moffet, where Carnegie Mellon has a campus and where there are other educational and commercial activities beyond those of NASA, the armed forces and Google. Google might be able to fill its needs by sending Golf Carts over the current pedestrian bridge to its nearby Crittenden Road buildings. I don't think diesel buses are warranted.
That is, Google might be able to use Golf Cart shuttles to link their new buildings if they weren't also trying to provide Police, Fire and other emergency services through that new linkage. That's what the city council should study--whether the city should be getting into providing backdoor services like that to a lessee on Federal property.
The use of noisy diesel busses could be eliminated as part of the conditions for a bridge. Hybrid natural gas / electric or pure electric could be 'required'. It is pretty clear that this bridge would most help the 'backdoor services' to NASA AMES redevelopment. Any bridge into Shoreline / NASA area or between the areas or across 101 will be to accommodate development.
- The larger question - on which there is no unanimous community agreement - is if and how future growth will occur in Mountain View. And that is what the long planning process was and is about. No agreement will pass our representative council 7-0. Because we do seem split about 4-3, or 3-4. See the editorial in this week's Voice.
So VERY please in our city council for not bothering with this selfish and anti-Mountain View Google grab of our wonderful trail.
If Google won't commit to their "Do no harm" matra, at least the Council can help them.
The proposal is selfish and should not be considered. Our open space/park land is not avail for Google to build roads through so they can get to their meetings faster.
If Google is SERIOUS about reducing traffic in the area, why are they so opposed to telecommuting? THAT is where the future lies, but Google likes to have their serfs at close leash length, so surprise, you just don't hear those discussions.
Whenever Google comes up with these selfish ideas to grab our public land, we should shoot right back at them: "What steps towards increasing the number of telecommuting employees are you taking"
Also, Google has money to pay people to try and influence the community through msg boards...a cautious eye reading the comments will spot them easily. Protect our City, if you don't nobody will.!
I think the North Bayshore bridge idea is smart, the idea is to connect 2 campus, NASA, a light rail station, a college, and another part of Mountain View. Bikes, walkers, joggers and shuttles. Bridges should be open for VTA busses.
We could connect more if we build eve MORE bridges...as long as you're a Google employee. Private Roads for Google Only (PRGO)is working to make that happen.
Why not pave it all? put the creek in a pipe and build office towers, roads, and homes all over it. Stevens Creek is nothing but nuisance for our good mother Google ship. Pave it all.
The best solution would be for Google to build another bridge across the Bay! That would really make their buses run faster and they'd have a whole new place for employees to live: Fremont and so forth.
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