July 5, 2005 > Editorial: No place to hide
Editorial: No place to hide
With clarification by Caltrans, Fremont councilmembers now have a clear choice between support and rejection of the Option 2 roadway along a portion of the Historic Parkway Corridor. Changing position on building this road can no longer be couched in terms of trading an "aye" vote for Mission/I880 Interchange money.
All indications are that although Caltrans will not approve an alternative to the Historic Parkway Corridor as a state highway, neither will they oppose a local roadway through a portion of the route. State Assembly Member Alberto Torrico has introduced legislation (AB1462) - with no apparent opposition - that will almost guarantee that monies from the sale of "excess" Caltrans land in the corridor will be applied to the woefully under funded Mission/I880 interchange.
We have watched the Fremont city council throw roadblocks into any compromise under the guise of earnest discussion but now there is no more wiggle room. This should be a straight up or down vote - either you are for an east/west connection between Alvarado-Niles Road and Paseo Padre Parkway or not. In either case, it seems to me that local residents will be unfavorably impacted.
If the road is approved, will there be construction, noise and changes in traffic patterns in the area? Yes. Will this be a problem for area homeowners? Yes. Will it affect a riparian corridor? Yes. Will this help traffic flow in the area? Yes.
If "option 2" is removed from consideration, will some of the land be used for housing, possibly high density? Yes. Will traffic increase on existing roadways? Yes. Will the Union City portion be built? Yes. Will traffic from thousands of new housing units near the intermodal station flow through adjoining neighborhoods? Yes.
There is no "right" answer to this equation. Although it may be unpopular in the affected neighborhoods, option 2 appears to be a valid compromise between building a large traffic artery and none at all. Decoto Road is already heavily used and there is more traffic to come in the future. Once the parkway corridor of land is closed to a roadway, no "do-over" will be possible. Over the past 40 years, without this roadway, traffic has grown to barely manageable numbers and there is no reason to believe it will level off or decline in the future. Mass transit alternatives may lessen the impact, but will not replace the burden on city streets.
Land use is already under significant pressure from housing advocates, open space proponents and transportation planners. I am in favor of all of the above. Vast agricultural lands have disappeared into housing tracts, open space is rare except for parkland and our jealously guarded hills; an increasing population still relies heavily on automobiles even as gas prices climb toward $3 per gallon. Our love affair with the automobile continues and it is a fact of life that people who use those cars can be inventive when looking for alternate routes to get from here to there.
When Decoto Road at Mission Boulevard or Alavardo-Niles Road gridlocks, traffic will seek another route and use Isherwood Way. This small road cannot handle a large flow of automobiles and will soon gridlock too. From there, the impact will travel along Mission Boulevard (Route 238) (and Niles Boulevard) to Mowry Avenue and Peralta Boulevard in one direction and Alvarado-Niles or Mission/Whipple Road in the other. Small neighborhood streets will be (and are) used to circumvent heavy traffic on major thoroughfares.
Option 2 is not a great answer to the traffic dilemma facing Fremont and Union City but it can help. Short of no-growth or negative growth policies of local cities, there seem to be few, if any, viable alternatives.