Outside The Box: Let’s Bury El Camino Real

Download this post On an average weekday drivers make over 45,000 trips on Menlo Park’s short section of El Camino Real, and a majority of these drivers are simply passing through as they travel between origins and destinations outside our city, e.g., Palo Alto, Stanford Facilities + Shopping Center + Medical Center. El Camino Real is a HIGHWAY = Primary Vehicle Artery, after all, so it is performing the role it was intended. However, the large and growing amount of traffic will continue to create problems for Menlo Park that will only get worse given the huge amount of current development activity in Palo Alto, Redwood City and Stanford. Think about the current more than 800,000 square foot expansion at the Stanford Medical Center. So why not simply bury El Camino? That way, pass through traffic would almost “disappear”.


Bold Idea – Design Concept

  • Force North-South pass-thru traffic traveling on El Camino Real underground via a one-mile tunnel that runs from just south of Middle Avenue to just north of Valparaiso.
  • Transform the current El Camino to a wonderful surface park with popular amenities, bike paths and a few cross streets.
  • Allow drivers to enter and exit the tunnel at each end and at Ravenswood Avenue. A mid-tunnel access would be located below grade (under the tracks and Alma Street.
  • Extend streets across the park only at Ravenswood Avenue, Santa Cruz Avenue, Oak Grove, and Valparaiso.
  • Build one-way single vehicle surface lanes on both sides of the park to handle local traffic. Also. provide a single line of parking on one side.

Great Benefits & Problems Solved

  • Menlo Park would a beautiful park that include a variety of amenities, e.g., landscaping, fountains, seating, reflecting pool, sculpture, outdoor cakes, integrates downtown and El Camino.
  • The park would integrate downtown Santa Cruz and El Camino Real making it easier for pedestrians and cyclists to travel between the two areas and the train station district.
  • The pass-thru traffic handling capacity of El Camino Real would be significantly increased making this highway more efficient.
  • Pass-thru vehicle traffic would not interfere with local traffic, especially important during commute times.
  • Pass-thru vehicle traffic would be discouraged from crossing neighborhoods on either side of El Camino.
  • Grade separation with Ravenswood Avenue passing under both the train tracks and Alma Street would greatly improve driver, pedestrian and cyclist safety at this crossing.
  • Cyclists would gain another safe north-south bike route along or in the park.

Wouldn’t this be great?


What Would This Cost?

“Let’s start with something we know: the tunneling cost for the proposed extension of the Long Beach 710-Freeway: $6 billion for 4.9-mile segment, which works out to $1.22 billion per mile.” (See source) And the park costs and surface infrastructure would be added to this figure.   

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