May 17, 2005 > Editorial: The highway that isn't
Editorial: The highway that isn't
When is a highway no longer a highway? Ask the Fremont City Council. In their meeting of May 10, members of the Fremont city council, considered Option 2 of the Highway 84 Realignment Project. Some have now decided that this road has morphed into a non-highway or, at least, no longer the reviled Highway 84 of campaign days. It appears that building this path, road, highway - or whatever is politically correct - is okay if negotiations conclude with $43 million guaranteed for the I-880/Mission Boulevard interchange project.
In an interesting discussion of alternatives, some councilmembers who previously expressed solid opposition to the construction of Highway 84 when running for office had a different song to sing. The council, which seems to bend with any financial breeze that comes along, followed its usual pattern of non-decision. Unwilling to ask for or consider consensus, this group is blindly moving toward a meeting with "interested parties" to discuss their alternatives. ACTA (Alameda County Transportation Authority) has shown the patience of Job when dealing with Fremont, but it is questionable if that will continue. The final carrot placed on the table for Fremont's consent is the promise of money - and it seems to be working.
To his credit, Councilmember Dutra at least submitted a list of conditions for discussion. He put forth two options before the council:
1) Refuse any consideration of the suggested route because we believe that our chances for receiving $43 million for the critical I-880/Mission Interchange Phase 1B and Phase 2 improvements would more likely be obtained through (a) Caltrans agreeing to sell their land to fund these improvements (with no linkage to Route 84) or (b) that the City of Fremont could more effectively compete for these funds by rejecting this route and vying with other jurisdictions for this funding.
2) Develop a set of clear conditions under which the currently proposed route - now known as Option 2 - would be acceptable.
The mayor said bluntly that Fremont has been unable to come to a conclusion on Highway 84 for 30 years. It appears that given ACTA's acquiescence, this debate could go on for another 30 years. Discussion appeared to wander from the merits of Highway 84 and whether Option 2 is palatable to questions of how much money could be realized for Fremont if the council went along with the plan.
It was painful to hear the convoluted reasoning that came forth to rationalize a trade of a road for money. The list of council conditions for approval, however, seemed endless and, at times, contradictory. For example, Councilmember Cho insisted on no truck traffic if Option 2 was approved while environmental champion Councilmember Wieckowski had no problem with trucks.
Whether you agree or not that the extension should be built, the clear and definitive voices of the past are now clouded with the sound of retreat.