Road extension to improve access to Stanford Hospital

An extension of Blake Wilbur Drive between Sand Hill Road and Welch Road will provide better access to the emergency department as well as reduce congestion around the medical campus.

- By Emily Moskal

David Entwistle and friends cycle along the newly opened extension of Blake Wilbur Drive, which is expected to ease congestion near Stanford Hospital.
Emmanuel Diego

An extension to Blake Wilbur Drive, providing easier access to Stanford Hospital’s emergency department, opened to all traffic, including cars, shuttles, bicycles and pedestrians, on Nov. 6.

The extension, which stretches between Sand Hill Road and Welch Road, connects Durand Way to Blake Wilbur Drive and parallels the 800 and 900 blocks of Welch Road.

The four-lane extension replaces parking lots with a street that improves traffic near the medical center, particularly to the emergency department, as well as outpatient facilities on Welch Road. By allowing ambulances from Sand Hill Road to avoid Pasteur Drive, which can be congested, the Blake Wilbur Drive extension will help expedite delivery of patients to the emergency department, with the potential to save valuable minutes.

“This extension will help provide better access to our world-class care at Stanford Hospital and other facilities,” said Molly Swenson, director of land use and licensing for the planning, design and construction department.

During a road opening celebration on Nov. 2, David Entwistle, president and CEO of Stanford Health Care, rode his cardinal-red mountain bike, adorned with red ribbon, behind an ambulance along the new extension — in a dress shirt and tie, no less.

“The research, the teaching and the clinical care that we provide — that’s what it’s about,” Entwistle said to a crowd that gathered to celebrate the new road. “This road allows access to that in a more timely manner.”

Modernizing campus

Swenson said that the extension is part of a multiyear, phased project to renovate the medical campus. Plans for significant renewal and replacement of existing facilities to modernize the campus — including those vulnerable to earthquakes — were approved by the City of Palo Alto in 2011. The roadway extension was included in the project approvals, but detailed design did not begin in earnest until 2020, and city permits were issued in early 2023.   

Swenson said the new extension follows modern and sustainable principles for street connectivity that encourages “multimodal use” by vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians. For example, it completes a connection with the San Mateo Drive bike bridge stretching over San Francisquito Creek, taking bicyclists from Menlo Park all the way to Stanford Hospital. The extension will also include pedestrian walkways with seven new wheelchair accessible ramps, all flanked by drought-tolerant, native landscaping for visitors to enjoy.

“I’m excited to see this connection come to fruition and serve the community,” Swenson said.

About Stanford Medicine

Stanford Medicine is an integrated academic health system comprising the Stanford School of Medicine and adult and pediatric health care delivery systems. Together, they harness the full potential of biomedicine through collaborative research, education and clinical care for patients. For more information, please visit med.stanford.edu.

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