OPINION: Traffic Congestion from Proposed Google Expansion

Former City Manager Bruce Liedstrand weighs in on the projected traffic growth in Mountain View roadways as North Bayshore companies continue to hire.

Mayor and Council Members:

I just read an article in the Mountain View Voice about traffic congestion related to Google's proposed expansion. One comment, by consultant Jim Lightbody, stood out:

"The measures will have to be unusual, as North Bayshore companies estimate that 39 percent of their employees already use alternative modes of transportation to get to work. At full build-out, and at current rates of car use, road use could jump 300 percent. And North Bayshore's roads can only be modified to accommodate 25 percent more traffic," Lightbody said.

The overall tone of the article indicates a substantial worsening of already bad traffic congestion. I am not opposed to Google's proposal, but some effective traffic solution needs to be identified and implemented BEFORE approving the Google expansion.

One major difficulty in solving the traffic congestion problem is that no one lives in North Bayshore and so everyone working there must commute in and out of the area every working day. Since NBS is isolated from the rest of the city, this lack of residential development makes the traffic congestion problem almost impossible to solve.

When evaluating the environmental consequences of the Google proposal, the City Council has an obligation to the community (and perhaps a legal obligation) to evaluate all reasonable alternatives, including the alternative of allowing people to live in NBS close to where they work.

It is common sense that fewer people commuting in and out of NBS each day will help solve the traffic congestion problem. I have heard that an early Google study of traffic congestion verified that allowing some people to live in NBS helps substantially to reduce traffic congestion.

The City Council needs to use the current traffic analysis of the Google proposal to determine whether this is true. If it is true, this choice should certainly be evaluated and discussed with the community before a final decision is made.

I realize that the city Council has indicated a policy preference against allowing people to live in NBS and that there may be important reasons for that preference. I respect those reasons and the City Council's policy preference. But the City owes the community an evaluation of the impacts of allowing people to live in NBS so we can all understand the choice and the impacts.

Don't endanger the legal validity of the traffic study by failing to evaluate the impacts of the resideal alternative.

Please direct the consultant team to include an evaluation of the traffic congestion impacts of allowing some people to live in NBS.

Thanks for listening.



Should the city council reconsider housing in North Bayshore? Is that the best way to alleviate congestion? Leave your comment below.

Les Montavon October 20, 2012 at 07:31 PM
Born here and lived here from 1951 We have consistently refused to acknowledge the obvious. We have painted ourselves into a corner and are now looking for anyone or thing to blame for our repetitive follies. This place just grew up... There was never an encompassing plan for the bay area. Every potential escape from our current dilemma such as electric trolley lines, open space, bike corridors and planned in advance traffic routes have been sold off, paved over and built on as quickly as possible. And it seems the same determined shortsightedness that got us into this situation is calling the shots today. It may be helpful to look back on the history of how we got from one lane muddy roads to slowly moving six lain auto glaciers. When we take responsibility for our part in it all we can begin to envision the innovative solutions worthy of our unique natural and societal environments. A lot of this traffic anxiety is directed at Google. This is like wanting to strangle the golden goose because it pooped on your floor. Several years back Google had a detailed plan for rebuilding the Googleplex. It was very futuristic and included transportation, open space, housing, retail and gobs of Google. I only saw a glimpse of the planned layout while on a Mountain View citizens committee. Apparently Mountain View leaders at that time didn't like the idea. In retrospect it may be worth asking ourselves what may have happened if Google had been allowed to proceed as desired.
commuter October 20, 2012 at 08:21 PM
Last time I checked, there was no exit from the trail other than Old Middlefield next to the freeway offramp. There is a short stub pointing south, but no exits. Hopefully there is a plan to extend the trail soon.
Claudia Cruz October 20, 2012 at 08:31 PM
It would be nice to have the Permanente Creek Trail extend further south, wouldn't it! It also would be nice if people carpooled more and that the HOV lane on 101 emptied out on Shoreline (or another less congested street.) It would also be nice if public transportation ran more often. I'll add that the congestion has caused more accidents too recently because I hear it on KCBS and the police scanners. There are a lot of things we wished happened ... but how do we go from wishing to doing? Especially in the short-term?
commuter October 20, 2012 at 09:51 PM
In the short term, the city should paint bike lanes on Old Middlefield Road and continue them on Middlefield Road into Palo Alto. A lot of the Google people live in southern Palo Alto and northern Mountain View (around San Antonio Road), but bicycle routes from there to north Shoreline are very poor. If commuters could follow well defined bike lanes down to the current entrance of the Permanente Creek Trail, then the hop over Hwy 101 is very easy.
Nelly potter October 22, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Navigator Systems does not inform Traffic Congestions or Road Constructions. Best, Use Maps Instead. Traffic Congestion, you say, it is all over the cities why go to the congested areas when one knows it will be congested. AVOID IT!!! Instead of a trip to Caffeine Land just Absorb the City Scenic roads with its beautiful Landscaping, the Hills, the trees, by the side of, 280, or the ones in Hy 1. Hy 35, etc. if you know of other scenic areas let me know. No on Congestion Road and Yes on more quite roads. Also why talk about Google, it keeps a good House Market. City Needs Google, Google has money, City needs Money. "The House Always Wins"


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