The Hillsdale Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge project will construct a new, pedestrian/bicycle bridge and path system to allow pedestrians and bicyclists to travel through the Route 101/Hillsdale Boulevard interchange and over Route 101 without encountering any freeway ramp conflict points. The new pedestrian/bicycle bridge over Route 101 will be designed with enhanced aesthetics and a potentially “signature” structure to provide an identifiable landmark unique to the City of San Mateo. The bridge and Class I multi-use path will serve a broad spectrum of commuter, recreational, and utilitarian pedestrians and bicyclists by providing a convenient connection between the employment centers, residential areas, parks, trails, schools, and shopping centers along the Hillsdale Boulevard corridor both east and west of US 101. By providing safe and inviting connectivity, the Hillsdale pedestrian/bicycle bridge will encourage a mode shift away from automobile travel to more active forms of pedestrian and bicycle transportation that provide multiple benefits including reduced roadway and parking congestion, improved health, and benefits for the environment.
Route 101 through San Mateo County presents a major barrier to east/west pedestrian and bicycle travel throughout the County and in the City of San Mateo. Local community members first identified the need for safer access across Route 101 in the Hillsdale Boulevard area after reconstruction of the 101/Hillsdale interchange in 2001. In the early 2000s the San Mateo Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee identified the project as a high priority need and in 2007 the City completed a study for an improved crossing over the freeway in the 101/Hillsdale interchange area. The study identified the existing problems, the needs of the bicycle and pedestrian community, and the goals and objectives for improving the connection across Route 101. The study then evaluated a variety of alternatives for a safer freeway crossing, both connected and separate from the Hillsdale Blvd overcrossing, to minimize or eliminate at-grade crossing points of the high speed freeway on/off ramps. Due to the high density and continuous character of the residential and mixed use housing fronting three of the four quadrants of the interchange and extending north and south along the freeway, a crossing route was limited to passing somewhere through the existing 101/Hillsdale interchange. This was also preferred to minimize out-of-direction travel for bicyclists and pedestrians traveling along the Hillsdale Blvd corridor. The City obtained feedback from the public through two community meetings, corresponded and held a field review meeting regarding the locally preferred alternatives with the Caltrans pedestrian/bicycle coordinator, and held discussions with local business owners. Through this process the City identified a locally-preferred solution as a grade-separated overcrossing structure and path, separate from the Hillsdale Blvd overcrossing, traversing through the south half of the interchange from the Hillsdale Blvd/Franklin Pkwy intersection on the west side to the Hillsdale Blvd/Norfolk St intersection on the east side which would cross over all freeway ramps and eliminate all at-grade ramp crossings. During review of the 2007 planning study, the City Council indicated an interest in considering a “signature” structure design for the proposed overcrossing to become a landmark for the City of San Mateo. In 2013 the City secured funding through the San Mateo County Transportation Authority “Measure A” program to complete the Project Initiation Document (PID) phase of the Caltrans project development process for a pedestrian/bicycle overcrossing.