Palo Alto community fights for trees

August 28, 2008 12:45:21 AM PDT
Oregon expressway on the Peninsula is one of those Silicon Valley corridors that causes frustration on a daily basis for commuters. However, the county's congestion solution isn't sitting well with hundreds of neighbors and another Bay Area community fighting to keep its trees.

More than 500 walkers, bikers, and Middlefield Road residents have signed Betsy and David Fryberger's petition. Opposing the county's concept of building a left turn lane on Middlefield Road, so synchronizing traffic lights on Oregon Expressway would be easier.

"Because of the current operation, it requires a lot of green time for the side street so the odds are yes, if you're on Oregon, you'll probably hit a red light at Middlefield," said Dan Collen, the Deputy Director of Santa Clara County Roads and Airport Department.

To create that left turn lane, Middlefield Road needs to be widened by eight feet. That means taking three feet from one side of the road and five feet from the other. That would take out everything up to the side walk, including several trees. That's why the Frybergers posted signs on some of the trees.

"They're proposing to solve something that's a problem for half hour or an hour and cutting down the trees is forever, I just think that's a bad idea," said David Fryberger, an expansion opponent.

It's one of three ideas the county is considering. The other two involve removing fewer trees and building very narrow lanes.

"It's a toss-up isn't it? Congestion isn't a good thing, but losing trees isn't a good thing either," said Kim Koch, a driver.

Losing trees in a well established Tree City USA is an outrage for The Friends of Reasonable Expressway Design. Members, like the Frybergers have petition boxes in their driveways. They'll present the signatures to county leaders at a public meeting Thursday night.