Menlo Park wary of water pipeline woes 

Despite assurances that the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission will restore streets and public plazas after it installs a new water pipeline, city officials now want to make sure they won’t be stuck paying for the repairs.

Mayor Kelly Fergusson and Public Works Director Kent Steffens have raised alarm bells over the SFPUC’s plan to build a new a $4.3 billion emergency pipeline that would bring water from Hetch Hetchy to the Bay Area in the event that an earthquake disabled existing pipelines.

In response, the SFPUC updated its right-of-way policy Feb. 13, vowing to restore public features such as streets and sidewalks to their former condition, but Fergusson said the public agency must go further.

"They have agreed to replace the improvements they damage, rather than have the city do the repairs, but we still need to understand what the cost implications to the city are," Fergusson said.

The agency could wind up doing the repairs and then charging cities such as Menlo Park for those repairs, she added.

Two and a half miles of pipe will be laid underground in Menlo Park, along Bay Road and Ivy Drive, and across major thoroughfares such as Marsh and Willow roads. The city spent $1.3 million in 2005 to make Ivy Plaza a gathering place for residents.

The SFPUC is offering to replace Ivy Drive and plaza in exchange for Menlo Park’s agreement to provide the agency with staging areas throughout the construction process, according to commission spokeswoman Maureen Barry.

"We’re not just going to pave over Ivy Drive as if we’re covering a trench," Barry said. "We could tear it up and leave it, but that’s not what we do; we want the site to look better than it did when we came in."

Pipeline construction is tentatively slated to begin in 2008 or 2009.

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