Due to lack of maintenance consistency from Caltrans, the Redwood City city council last week approved an agreement with the agency to take on maintenance of 1.2-mile segment of Woodside Road.
The section of State Highway 84 will extend the boundaries of a previous agreement to include a stretch from Cypress Street to Highway 101.
City Councilmember Ian Bain said past maintenance of the area, which he described as a entrance to the community, occurred a couple of times each year at best.
“It’s our city image at stake here,” he said.
Four-foot-tall weeds and piles of trash are common in the area that has long been an irritation to nearby residents and an unfortunate image to visitors, Bain said.
“I believe it’s like the front yard for our city,” he said.
The city and Caltrans have been discussing turning over responsibility for many years but only very seriously in the past year, Bain said.
“It’s been a long process dealing with CalTrans,” he said. “It took a few people to really push this through.”
Short-term goals for the area are to clean and maintain a presentable appearance up to city standards. This includes removal of debris, sweeping, pruning vegetation, and cleaning up spills, litter and animal carcasses on a regular basis.
Community Development Director Bill Ekern said that with a simple and regular maintenance schedule, the area would transform from something of a local embarrassment to a road the community actually wants.
“It’s been a very low priority as best I can tell of Caltrans,” he said.
With a cleaner atmosphere not only will the area look far more presentable, Ekern said, but as the area becomes neater and more visible it will also feel safer.
“As it gets cleaned up consequently it will feel safer,” he said. “It just won’t feel so nasty.”
According to Ekern, the first phase of improvements to Woodside Road will quickly become noticeable to residents.
“In about six months people will be quite impressed,” Ekern said.
The second phase of the overall improvements will include lower maintenance landscaping, though city staff is debating the specifics on landscape materials.
“Right now we want to look more uniform and clean up,” Ekern said. “Then we would come back and say here are the gaps and places we want to make look even better.”
According to Bain, decisions on landscaping would be at least a year out.
Caltrans will reimburse the city for maintenance to Woodside for up to $70,200 each year. However, in order to meet the standards set by the city, estimated costs are expected to be approximately $118,000 annually.
“It’s such a gateway for the city, it wouldn’t be able to meet our expectations,” Ekern said of the $70,000 budget. “We want to meet our standards.”