$3.5M project to restore landscaping at Willow Road-U.S. 101 interchange gets green light from Menlo Park council | News

Designs for the Willow Road and U.S. 101 interchange landscaping. Courtesy city of Menlo Park.

Landscaping the highway interchange at Willow Road and U.S. 101, in the works since 2019, was given renewed urgency at an Aug. 29 Menlo Park City Council meeting.

The interchange was was rebuilt in 2019 as a “partial cloverleaf” design to improve merging. In the process, the original landscaping, which included mature trees, was demolished.

The total estimated cost to restore landscaping to the area is $3.5 million, and coming up with the funding took time, according to Council member Drew Combs. The city has secured full funding through the San Mateo County Transportation Authority’s Measure A.

Pam Jones, a Belle Haven resident, expressed disappointment that the project has been so long delayed and frustration with Caltrans for the original demolition and the ensuing lack of landscaping. Menlo Park’s Belle Haven neighborhood is cut off from the rest of the city by Highway 101, and due to a history of racially motivated “red-lining,” has a more diverse population than the rest of the city.

“(When the freeway was built) it was about increasing the racial divide, and now it’s about environmental justice,” Jones said. “This is quite consistent without how our history continues to show up today.”

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