Residents and city officials gathered at the corner of Middlefield Road and Cassia Street to celebrate the completion of a years-long street renovation project.
The Middlefield Road Streetscape Project, which was first conceptualized over a decade ago, includes the removal of utility poles and overhead wires and undergrounding of all telecommunication lines and equipment between Maple Street and Woodside Road. Streets and sidewalks were also upgraded with new crosswalks, accessible curb ramps, protected bike lanes and landscaping.
“This is a special day,” said Mayor Giselle Hale, addressing the attendees. “In the ten years since this project has began, our downtown has experienced a renaissance. And today, with this ribbon-cutting, more residents will have safe pedestrian access to those amenities.”
At least 15 people attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday afternoon, including Hale, former mayor Diane Howard, former mayor Ian Bain and council member Alicia Aguirre.
Hale, who serves on the Safe Routes to School Committee, cited studies that link pedestrian safety with city vibrancy, thanking previous council members for taking on this project.
“I remember being a new mom, walking my stroller with my brand new baby,” she said. “The sidewalks were narrow, there were numerous utility poles, and at times I had to actually go into the street.”
The streetscape project, originally a pilot program to reduce car traffic and encourage more bike and pedestrian mobility, started in 2010 with the removal of one traffic lane and the addition of new bike lanes.
“It was under trial for almost ten years,” said project engineer Peter Delgado. “That was really the first step to see if it was safer and see if it works from the traffic flow perspective.”
The pilot was a success, said Delgado, adding that the changes brought a slowing of car traffic and an increase in bikes.
After the initial trial began a three-phase project: the addition of pedestrian crosswalks, the undergrounding of telecommunication lines and the “streetscaping,” which included new bike lanes, trees, street lights and drainage basins for rainwater. Undergrounding of cable lines serves both aesthetic and safety purposes, Delgado said.
The design was completed by Bellecci & Associates in 2018, and construction began shortly after that. Financing for the project, which cost around $8 million, included a roughly $2 million federal grant from Caltrans, with additional funds from the city, the state Water Board and Rule 20A, a program that funds the undergrounding of overhead power lines.
The official completion of the project is pending the disconnection of old power lines and the removal of a few final poles, a process that could take another couple of months, according to Delgado. However, all new additions are up and running, he added.
Improving transportation is a “top-three priority” in Redwood City, according to Hale, who described the Middlefield Rd. project as part of an ongoing effort—the Vision Zero Action Plan—to eliminate all traffic fatalities and injuries by the year 2030.
“Our mission in Redwood City is to be a community where people of all backgrounds and all income levels can thrive,” said Hale. “With this project, we are cementing the investment in that vision and our hopes that it will contribute to a thriving community. And I, for one, look forward to our next visit to the park on the street.”