UPGRADE

DOWNTOWN

FAQ 2018-03-19T14:01:51+00:00

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

1) Why is the City doing this construction now? Is this to support new development?

This project is unrelated to any development; it is driven by our aging utility infrastructure and the need to upgrade and maintain our water and gas pipes and our roads for continued future use. In addition, since construction costs continue to rise, we are proceeding as quickly as possible. The work is intentionally sequenced to complete underground work first, followed by street repaving and changes to traffic controls to minimize disruption and avoid busy seasons. 

2) What are the goals of the Upgrade Downtown project? Will it be coordinated so road repair work is completed in conjunction with other work?

Upgrade Downtown is a City of Palo Alto multi-year infrastructure and street improvement project that will include utility pipe replacement road repaving, traffic signal enhancement, sidewalk widening, and a new downtown parking garage. Additionally, complete street changes are under consideration for University Avenue and Alma Street, including potential bicycle lanes on University Avenue. The work will be sequenced through 2021, with water/gas pipe replacement occurring primarily in 2017, 2018, and 2019, parking enhancements between 2018 and 2020, and street improvements scheduled through 2021. 

3) What’s the construction timeline?

Work began in June 2017 with water pipe replacement on Hamilton Avenue. We are posting updates of this pipe replacement on the project website. To receive updates of the larger Upgrade Downtown Project, please subscribe to our newsletter.

In 2018 and 2019, water and/or gas pipes will be replaced on the following streets:

• University Avenue between Palo Alto Circle and Webster Street
• Hawthrone Avenue between Alma Street and Middlefield Road
• Everett Avenue between Alma and Bryant Streets and between Fulton Street and Palo Alto Avenue
• Lytton Avenue between Waverley and Webster Streets
• Hamilton Avenue between Waverley and Cowper Streets
• Forest Avenue between Alma and Ramona Streets
• Homer Avenue between High and Emerson Streets
• High Street between Hawthorne and Everett Avenues, and between Lytton and Hamilton Avenues
• Emerson Street between Everett and Hamilton Avenues
• Ramona Street between Everett and Lytton Avenues
• Bryant Street between Lytton and Forest Avenues
• Kipling Street between Hawthorne and Lytton Avenues
• Cowper Street between Lytton and University Avenues, and between Hamilton and Forest Avenues
• Webster Street between Everett and Lytton Avenues
• Tasso Street between Lytton and University Avenues
• Louis Road between Embarcadero Road and W. California Avenue
• Miranda Court from Miranda Avenue to end

In 2018, street improvement work begins along Alma Street between Melville Avenue and Palo Alto Avenue, Lane 33 between Ruthven Avenue and Cowper Street, and Whitman Court from Bryant Street to Waverley Street. 

In 2019, street improvement work begins along University Avenue between Alma Street and Webster Street, Downing Lane between Forest Avenue and Homer Avenue, Everett Avenue between Alma Street and Fulton Street, and Hawthorne Avenue between Emerson Street and Middlefield Road. 

In 2020, street improvement work begins on Hamilton Court from Hamilton Avenue to End, Everett Avenue between Middlefield Road and Alma Street, Webster Street between Everett Avenue and Lytton Avenue, and on Emerson Avenue between Palo Alto and Forest Avenues. 

In 2021, street improvement work begins on Lane 5 East between High Street and Hamilton Avenue, Lane 6 East between High Street and Emerson Street, Lane 7 East between Forest Avenue and Homer Avenue, Lane 7 West between Forest Avenue and Homer Avenue, and Lane 30 between Waverley Street and Kipling Street. 

Parking enhancements, including a new parking structure, will occur between 2018 and 2020. A map of the affected areas is here. Please note that changes to this schedule may occur; updates will be communicated to residents and businesses through this website and our newsletter. 

4) Does the Upgrade Downtown Project represent all the construction that will occur in the city from 2017 through 2021?

No, Upgrade Downtown is one City-managed construction project, others will occur as regularly scheduled or as needed. Additionally, development work by private residents or companies may occur during this same time frame. Should any of these outside projects affect the downtown area, City staff will work to ensure coordination. 

5) How can I learn more about the project?

We will post updates on this website and you can track our progress through Twitter at #UpgradeDowntownPA. We will also post information through Nextdoor, and you can sign up here to be placed on an email list to receive regular updates. Finally, if you have any questions, you can email us at upgradedowntown@cityofpaloalto.org or call (650) 329-2DIG (2344). 

Additionally, the City held three public open houses: Friday, June 9, 2017 from 4 to 6 PM at Johnson Park; Tuesday, June 13, 2017 from 8 to 9:30 AM in the Community Meeting Room at City Hall; and Thursday, June 15, 2017 from 11:30 AM to 1 PM at Lytton Plaza. At these open houses residents, business owners, and downtown workers spoke directly with City staff to learn about project timelines and goals, ask questions, see where the construction will occur, and pick up copies of project fliers with important information. 

6) During construction, will roads be closed to traffic? Will some parking lots close?

University Avenue
Throughout the project, some portions of roads will be closed. A temporary construction fence will be erected on University Avenue with one or two blocks of street closure at a time. Although the construction hours on University Avenue is between 8 AM and 6 PM, the subject block(s) will remain closed 24-hours, 7-days a week to avoid daily or weekly demobilization and remobilization to expedite the construction of the project. During these block closures, only pedestrian traffic will be maintained. Motor vehicles and bicycles will be detoured. Signage with detour information will be posted throughout the project. Some street parking spaces on other blocks of University Avenue will also be unavailable for certain periods of time as necessary. Notices of planned parking area closures will be posted 72-hours in advance of the closure. 

Other Downtown Streets:
Ranger Pipelines will have a second crew who will be replacing gas pipes on other streets. Street closure for this work will only occur during construction hours. Pedestrian traffic, and access to parking garages and lots, alleyways, and private driveways will be maintained during these street closures, while motor vehicles and bicycles will be detoured. Signage with detour information will be posted throughout the project. Street parking spaces will be unavailable within the construction zone during construction hours. Notices of planned parking area closures will be posted 72-hours in advance of the closure.

Please refer to the updates page for street closure information. 

7) What are the hours of the construction? How much noise can we expect, particularly on weekends?

Typically, construction crews will begin working at 8 AM and finish at 5 PM, although these hours may vary slightly depending on the specified work required. Hours within the Parking Assessment District will be between 8 AM and 4 PM. An exception will be made for University Avenue where the hours will be between 8 AM and 6 PM to expedite the construction of the project. 

Construction will occur during the weekdays. No weekend work is anticipated. However, a construction fence will be erected 24-hours, 7-days a week for block closures along University Avenue. 

City staff are working with the project’s contractor and our downtown businesses to ensure noise is minimized as much as possible during key hours. For example, we strive to schedule the quieter work during the usual lunch hours, so pedestrians can enjoy eating and shopping downtown. 

8) Will I receive notice of any construction occurring in front of my home or business?

Yes. One month prior to any construction occurring, residents and businesses within a 200-foot radius of the construction area will receive a notification of the date construction will commence. Additionally, any property abutting the work area will receive a second notice 7-days prior to construction beginning. A third notice will be sent to the affected properties 24-hours before construction begins. If a driveway to a garage or parking area must be closed for work to occur, the notice will state the approximate time of the work and when the area will reopen. No driveway will be closed overnight.

9) Will transit routes be detoured?

Public transit lines operated by VTA, SamTrans, and the Palo Alto Shuttle overlap with many of the streets undergoing reconstruction and temporary detours and/or stop relocations are likely. VTA and SamTrans-operated bus lines and stop locations will be temporarily rerouted and relocated at the discretion of each operator. Palo Alto Shuttle temporary detours and stop relocations will be overseen by the City of Palo Alto. 

10) Where exactly is the new parking garage going? Will any existing buildings be removed? How much additional parking will it provide?

The new 5-story parking garage will be located on the existing surface parking lot D on the northwest corner of Hamilton Avenue and Waverley Street. The new garage will be constructed on the footprint of the existing parking lot and no buildings will be removed. Once in place, the new garage will provide 291 – 415 parking spaces. 

11) How do I find out more information, express a concern or receive project updates?

• For the most up-to-date information on the Upgrade Downtown project, please continue to visit this website
• We will provide project updates through social media using hashtag #UpgradeDowntownPA and through Nextdoor messages.
• You may sign-up to receive regular emails about the project’s progress here.
• Our email address is upgradedowntown@cityofpaloalto.org and our phone number is (650) 329-2DIG (2344)