August 30, 2005 > The continuing saga of Highway 84
The continuing saga of Highway 84
An interview with Union City Mayor Mark Green
The long suffering project to provide an east/west route through a portion of Union City and northern Fremont appears to finally be heading for closure. Although a recent vote by the Fremont City Council seemed to quash construction of a highway along the Historic Parkway (Mission Boulevard to the Decoto/I-880 Interchange) or an alternative called "Option 2" (Mission Boulevard to Paseo Padre Parkway), new developments may influence Fremont councilmembers to reach a different conclusion. TCV asked Union City Mayor Mark Green for his comments.
TCV: Do you have any new information about the Historic Parkway project?
Mayor Green: Fremont has scheduled an agenda item for September 6th. Caltrans (California Department of Transportation) sent out a letter dated August 19th that said if the Historic Alignment or Option 2 is not accepted, there is no reason for them to be supportive of proceeds from sale of their excess land staying in this area. It would instead go back into the state pot; it could go to Santa Ana, Ukiah, Susanville or points in-between. In light of that, I believe Fremont has decided to take another look at this issue.
On the 9th of September, there will be a meeting of Mayors Smith (Newark), Wasserman (Fremont) and myself with [County Supervisor] Scott Haggerty. If there is no "Option 2," simply a "truncated version" from Mission Boulevard to Alvarado-Niles Road, the meeting would center on how to carve up $30 million left over. This does not include the sale of state lands and is really the worst outcome.
In that outcome, the ACTA (Alameda County Transit Authority) board has already recommended that Union City would get $55 million, Fremont would get $10 million for the Mission/I-880 project and the other $30 million, discussed at least at staff level, would be divided on a per capita basis. In that case, Fremont will not get what they need. They are actually better off from a transportation standpoint, not to mention traffic relief in the northern part of the city, with Option 2.
TCV: Have you had any meetings with Mayor Wasserman?
Mayor Green: Mayor Wasserman and I have met. I told him that I thought Fremont would be better off with Option 2 since in that case, the state would be supportive of using funds from sale of excess lands for their project in the southern part of the city (Mission Boulevard/I-880).
TCV: In any event, will the portion of the roadway from Mission Boulevard to Alavarado-Niles Road be built?
Mayor Green: There is an extremely high degree of certainty on that.
TCV: Why do you think there is opposition to the building a roadway along the Historic Parkway?
Mayor Green: If you lay out the facts from a traffic standpoint, they point to the historical alignment. If you cannot swallow that politically, then financially, Option 2 is the best thing for Fremont. At this point, all the cards are lining up - [State Representative Alberto] Torrico's bill (see TCV August 9, 2005 interview with Assemblymember Alberto Torrico on AB1462), Caltrans support, etc. - in favor of Option 2.
Mayor Wasserman asked at a meeting back in June what would happen if Option 2 could not be agreed upon. At the end of June, ACTA replied to his request. Union City would receive $46 million to build from Alvarado-Niles Road to Mission Boulevard. Another $9 million would go to Union City to mitigate other traffic problems in the area since relief from a continuation of the roadway would not be forthcoming. $10 million would go to Fremont for I-880/Mission in the southern part of the city and $30 million would be divided between the tri-cities.
There was some belief in Fremont that they could overturn that decision. This was not a 5-4 vote, 6-3 or even 8-1; it was 9-0 vote! Fremont would have to turn the majority of the ACTA board, not to mention the majority of the cities in the county. At this point, the members of the [Fremont] council should realize that this is the last peg of the checkerboard and you have to fill that one in right now.
TCV: How much longer will ACTA give extensions to achieve consensus?
Mayor Green: I have already lobbied ad nauseum for extensions. We have been able to keep the vultures away so far, but at some point, if we keep stalling, people in the northern part of the county are going to say, 'You know what, we can use the money for the xyz project. You guys are not spending it, we can spend it, and we can utilize it.' There is also the erosion of monies by inflation as well. Construction costs are rising faster than interest rates.
TCV: Are you optimistic about the possibility of reviving Option 2?
Mayor Green: There have been so many twists and turns on this thing over the years that it is difficult to be optimistic. However, based on the response that Fremont put this on their calendar before we are supposed to have our 'family meeting' on the ninth, my feeling is that they will seriously reconsider their previous vote on Option 2. There is hope.
TCV: Are we near the end of this decision process?
Mayor Green: I think so. I believe the machinery for something definitive will be in motion by the end of September.