The Stevens Creek Trail is a paved multi-use trail along Stevens Creek in Mountain View and Cupertino. Currently, the main segment of this trail extends 5 miles from its junction with the Bay Trail in Shoreline Park southward along the creek corridor (and parallel to the 85 freeway) as far as the intersection of Dale Avenue and Heatherstone Way (about 0.5 mile south of El Camino Real). Thanks to a number of bridges and underpasses, there are no at-grade street crossings along the route — a feature which makes the trail very popular with commuters as well as recreational users.
A separate segment of this trail exists in Cupertino. It extends northward along the creek from McClellan Road almost to Stevens Creek Blvd, a distance of about 0.7 miles. This will soon be completed to extend all the way to Stevens Creek Blvd.
For many years the city of Sunnyvale had a policy against participation in planning or construction of this trail. In 2009, the city council rescinded this policy. This enabled the creation of a four-city task force to explore ways of connecting the Mountain View section of the trail with the Cupertino section. The task force has representatives from the four city councils of Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Los Altos and Cupertino. It began having regular meetings in August 2012. A feasibility study was launched with $155,000 in funding from the four cities, the Valley Transportation Authority and the Friends of Stevens Creek Trail. This study is currently underway, with Sunnyvale as the lead agency.
Closing the Gap between Dale/Heatherstone and Stevens Creek Blvd.
The goal of the feasibility study is to explore feasible and desirable routes for connecting the trail between its current Dale/Heatherstone terminus and the Cupertino segment at Stevens Creek Blvd. It is clear that this portion of the trail will be very different from the existing segments. In contrast with the seamless Class I bikeway of the existing trail, the greater part of the current project will necessarily consist of on-street alignments. (The study contract stipulates that only public or quasi-public land will be considered for trail alignments.)
Roughly speaking, there are three pieces to this project. First, there is the segment from Dale/Heatherstone to Fremont Avenue, a distance of 1.3 miles. Here a creek corridor alignment seems possible, but involves some significant engineering challenges, and also requires use of CalTrans right-of-way in some places.
Second is the one-mile segment from Fremont Avenue to Homestead Road. In this segment, only on-street alignments are being considered. The three leading choices — Bernardo Avenue, Belleville Way, Fallen Leaf Lane — all have their problems. Of these, Bernardo alone seems to offer the possibility of constructing a Class I bike path, but has more problems in terms of connectivity.
The third segment — Homestead Road to Stevens Creek Blvd — is dominated by the question of how to get across the 280 freeway. Choices being looked at, in east to west order, are: (1) Use the existing Mary Ave bike bridge, (2) Build a new bike/ped bridge just east of the creek, (3) Use the existing high-flow creek tunnel under 280. (4) Use Foothill Blvd, (5) Use St Joseph Avenue. Options (1) and (5) are unappealing because they are so far from the creek. Option 4 — the existing Foothill Blvd bike lane — includes a freeway interchange which even experienced cyclists find scary, and cannot be recommended for children. As for option 3, the existing tunnel, CalTrans seems unwilling to approve its use because of security concerns. And option 2 seems to be on hold until CalTrans redesigns the 280-85-Foothill interchange (a project which is on CalTrans’s wish list but is a long way from having a target date). In any case, apart from the 280 crossing, alignments on the creek corridor are not possible in this segment because of lack of public right-of-way. So only on-street alignments are being looked at.
Connections between segments also present challenges. Getting from the first segment to the second requires crossing Fremont Avenue. Getting from the second segment to the third requires crossing Homestead Road. And, depending on where segment three comes out on Stevens Creek Blvd, there is the need to join up with the Cupertino segment on Stevens Creek Blvd at Phar Lap Drive. As anyone who has used the bike lane on Stevens Creek Blvd between Mary Ave and Phar Lap Drive can attest, this is not a family-friendly route.
Maps of proposed routes and additional materials regarding the feasibility study can be found at the study’s web site: http://stevenscreek.insunnyvale.com.
General information about the trail can be found at the Friends of Stevens Creek Trail web site: http://www.stevenscreektrail.org.