By Will Reisman, @WillReisman

GBI InfographicIn 2006, an expansive and unprecedented gathering of public and private entities–representing 19 cities, two counties, and other state and regional agencies along the Peninsula–coalesced together with one goal in mind: transform the El Camino Real corridor into a people friendly place. Thus, the Grand Boulevard Initiative was formed.

Despite passing through the heart of the communities between Daly City and San Jose, the El Camino Real Corridor was historically developed as an auto-oriented throughway. The Grand Boulevard Initiative established a Vision to revitalize the Corridor and focus on the movement of people and to create vibrant sustainable neighborhoods, thriving business communities and a strong system of public transportation that is safe and accessible.

Over the past 10 years, the Grand Boulevard Initiative has seen the development of 10 Guiding Principles and the endorsement of those principles by every community along the Corridor; has secured $8.7 million in grants to prepare studies and plans designed to give member agencies a path forward to upgrade land uses, public services, and infrastructure; and has supported new higher-density development, including 29 award-winning projects, that demonstrate the Vision and opportunity for a changing Corridor.

The Initiative provides the forum to support planning and investment in the Corridor, but the true measures of success are the plans and projects of each member agencies.

GBI Top of the Hill

Transit-oriented developments, such as the Cedar Street apartment complex in Redwood City and 101 Lytton mixed-use development in Palo Alto, place residents and workers closer to public transportation options.

Streetscape improvements, like the Top of the Hill project in Daly City and the Stanford Avenue/El Camino Real intersection in Palo Alto, make walking and biking safer and easier for Corridor residents.

Public transit upgrades, such as the SamTrans Route ECR to streamline bus service and increase frequency on El Camino Real to make it easier for passengers to use transit, also transform the Corridor.

The results are telling-since 2006, the Corridor has seen a 55 percent drop in total collisions, including a 30 percent drop in pedestrian-related and a 29 percent drop in bicycle-related collisions with automobiles.

The Grand Boulevard Initiative, co-chaired by Jim Hartnett, Executive Director of the San Mateo County Transit District, and Russel Hancock, President of Joint Venture Silicon Valley, continues to support local jurisdictions as they implement improvements along El Camino Real. The Initiative has demonstrated that agencies can achieve a great deal through collaborations that respect the aspirations of each of the active participants. One decade into its existence, there is plenty to be proud of and our communities are well-positioned to continue to create people friendly places from Daly City to San Jose.

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