Half a century ago, Caltrans plowed through Redwood City to build Woodside Road, a quasi-expressway for Highway 84 to link US-101 and I-280. Woodside Road was built according to the era’s abysmal design highway standards, creating a barrier between the eastern and western neighborhoods of Redwood City. One of the most striking examples of the poor engineering practices was the Woodside Road/Middlefield Road intersection, which removed all crosswalks despite ample space to accommodate pedestrians. The intersection was designed specifically to keep pedestrians out of the way of cars.
To walk across Woodside Road, community residents must instead walk nearly a quarter mile out of the way to a decrepit pedestrian bridge. Not only is crossing the bridge about seven times longer than walking across the intersection, it has also been a hotspot for crime – a survey of local residents noted that most felt unsafe crossing the pedestrian bridge. Consequently, the design has discouraged walking and encouraged people to drive very short distances just to cross the street.
Redwood City finally started to get the ball rolling a decade ago to install the missing crosswalks in coordination with Caltrans. The Hoover Area Community Mobility Plan identified the reconstruction of the intersection as a top priority. The City will build a number of improvements including crosswalks and sidewalks at the intersection, in coordination with other streetscape improvements along Middlefield Road in Redwood City and neighboring unincorporated North Fair Oaks.
Residents will finally be able to cross the street again upon completion of the project later this year. As the saying goes, better late than never.