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November 15, 2005 > Editorial: Historic Parkway redux

Editorial: Historic Parkway redux

It's baaack! The work session of the Fremont City Council scheduled for November 15th will yet again review the pros and cons of the Historic Parkway or parts thereof. I refuse to reiterate again all of the arguments but suffice it to say, it is time for this council to understand that they need to take action instead of continuing the hours of discussion that so far have led nowhere. It is obvious how the lines are drawn and it is equally obvious that two members (Steve Cho and Bob Wieckowski) of the council understand the need for an east/west connector for northern Fremont and (gasp!) archenemy, Union City.

The mayor has made his stand clear and will not support any road, no matter what the consequences. That leaves two others, either of whom can facilitate a continuation of the process. The interesting thing about these two (Anu Natarajan and Dominic Dutra) is that both live in the area of interest and yet, so far, fail to comprehend the value of such a road. Mr. Dutra is far more interested in the Mission/I-880 interchange and will only relinquish his opposition if he can get money transferred from the Parkway project to south Fremont, while Ms. Natarajan's motivation remains more of a puzzle. The usual detail oriented and overly meticulous planner with a love of minutia has, at times, simply blocked movement without much discussion.

Recognizing that the strip of land reserved for the Historic Parkway will be used for something other than open space, the question is pretty simple. Should this land disappear into more housing and, by extension, more traffic that will move from east to west? Is there any reason to move forward and conduct an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) of a road from Mission Boulevard to Paseo Padre Parkway and possibly Fremont Boulevard or I-880? The argument that Isherwood is a possibility for additional east/west traffic is laughable and those who refuse to admit there is a present commute traffic problem on Decoto Road are either traveling with a Guardian Angel or choose to ignore the signs of growing gridlock.

In my opinion, the best solution is to convert the corridor land to a roadway from Mission Boulevard to Fremont Boulevard. This avoids the probable headache of routing traffic along Paseo Padre Parkway to Decoto Road and the resulting intersection issues. Centerville can remove Highway 84 from Fremont Boulevard and regain control of its primary traffic artery while Niles businesses will attract more shoppers with improved access to their district. Congestion will not go away, but at least, some mitigation will be in the works. The size of the road and noise mitigation can be discussed and modified to protect neighborhoods from excessive noise and air pollution. There may even be the possibility of greenbelt along the road to separate it from adjoining residential development. These are legitimate issues for discussion and can be explored in an EIR. So far, Fremont has wasted too much time and the resulting economic erosion has wasted taxpayer money as well. Enough is enough.

What can be done and what is realistic? Councilmember Dutra appears to hold the cards unless Councilmember Natarajan declares independence. It is more likely that a trade of cash to Mission/I-880 for a vote will result in Option 2. While not the best solution and, in some respects, not even a good one, it appears that if Caltrans and ACTA (Alameda County Transportation Authority) will hold their noses while other interested parties acquiesce to the deal, the Highway 84 controversy may eventually fade into the background with other Fremont political imbroglios.

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