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August 30, 2005 > Editorial: The road less traveled

Editorial: The road less traveled

Okay, the title is not original. As a matter of fact, American poet Robert Frost beat me to it by quite a few years, but the sentiment is appropriate. The question of how best to use a strip of land from Mission Boulevard to Decoto Road and I-880 that has been set aside for decades will again be considered by the Fremont City Council on September 6th. The council has consistently opposed any road construction using arguments of increased traffic, not enough traffic, noise, pollution, environmental damage, NIMBYism plus a bit of rivalry with Union City thrown in for good measure. Frost spoke of two appealing roads and the decision process of taking one over the other.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth

He knew that reserving a different path for another day is often a hope without substance. Although it would be preferable to leave this space as open, without development, economics and the demands of city infrastructure make this decision untenable. Money and time have been asked to stand still too long and patience from other stakeholders has been stretched to their limits. The time for action is now. Fremont needs to understand that obstructionist politics may very well cost funds rather than augment them when eyeing how much can be funneled to the Mission/I-880 interchange project.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet, knowing how way leads onto way
I doubted if I should ever come back

There is no crystal ball in this case and, the poem is right on the money; there will be no return trip once a decision is made. A lot of money is at stake and so is the traffic flow through the northern portions of Fremont. Portions of the corridor will fill with housing in lieu of a roadway. Speculation of a miraculous modification of traffic flow along Decoto Road or an equally miraculous change along Isherwood is unrealistic. The last vote by Fremont's city council was 3-2 to take any available money and run south with it.

Councilmember Dutra appears fixated on removing monies from this north Fremont project and channeling them to the Mission Boulevard/I-880 project in the southern area. Caltrans may be hardening their position of how money from the sale of excess land can be used - not in favor of filling the Fremont bucket. Mayor Wasserman seems totally intransigent on any roadway along the historic corridor. That leaves Councilmember Natarajan as a swing vote in the matter. Last time the council considered the question of support for Option 2, she uncharacteristically failed to discuss the issue in depth and received a jubilant hug from Councilmember Dutra after falling in line. Will she be so pliant this time?

Time is running out for these antics. A council meeting on September 6th will be the last opportunity for Fremont to discuss and debate and possibly revote before action is solidified in joint meetings with other city and county officials; soon to be followed by ACTA and Caltrans responses. Frost looks back with recognition of life choices tinged by a bit of regret.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence
Two roads diverged in a wood
And I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference

Can Fremont move from partisan and parochial politics and dare to travel a different path? At least Frost took a chance. Failing roadway use of the entire corridor, Option 2 is a good compromise.
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