Q I’m sure you’ve been asked this before. The Highway 101-Willow Road interchange in Menlo Park is a disaster waiting to happen. It has entry lanes that share the exit ramps coming off Willow. I’ve had some pretty close calls by motorists humming down that slow lane. Whose brainchild is this, and why hasn’t it been reconfigured? I haven’t seen this type of ramp anywhere.
A There are plans for a major fix. Caltrans hopes to begin a big overhaul of this interchange in 2016 to address short weaving segments between the loop ramps to 101 with a partial cloverleaf design. That would ease the weaving and provide more space on the offramps. Construction would end in 2018.
Q If you want to see a true Marx Brothers-level comedy, look at the intersection of Middlefield and Willow roads on a late weekday afternoon. Drivers turning east onto Willow regularly stop in the middle of the intersection because they can’t clear it (apparently this isn’t taught in driving lessons anymore), and then drivers on Middlefield are stuck with nowhere to go.
I’ve seen literal gridlock all four ways because of the jammed intersection. I’ve also seen a couple of near brawls break out with drivers halfway out of their cars. The geography of that intersection (Willow merging to one lane) makes a true solution impossible, but surely something can be done.
A There is encouraging news. Traffic signals will be upgraded on Willow from Middlefield Road to Hamilton Avenue this year to better respond to road conditions. This will not eliminate congestion here, but it should help.
And the northbound approach at Middlefield will be changed to have one left-turn lane, one through lane, one shared through and right-turn lane, and one right-turn lane.
Q You have written about the snarl at Bayfront Expressway and Willow Road in Menlo Park before where Facebook’s headquarters are. I have noticed that the morning commute, while heavy, is usually not bad past Facebook.
The evening, on the other hand, is often a nightmare. I believe this is due to the traffic light allowing cars to go from Facebook’s parking lot across Bayfront to Willow or left onto eastbound Bayfront toward the Dumbarton. The situation has been pushed past its tipping point and nasty clogs have become routine.
How about this (and I know it’s a tall order): Prohibit traffic from the Facebook lot from crossing Bayfront to Willow Road or turning left onto Bayfront from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.? Traffic from Facebook would exit and turn right toward Marsh and 101. I don’t know if this would improve the evening commute, but it seems like it would be easy to try for a few months to find out.
A That is not going to happen, but here is what will be done. Facebook is helping pay for a third right-turn lane from eastbound Willow to Bayfront, the extension of the right turn/entrance ramp for westbound Willow to 101 north and extensive bike lane improvements along Willow.