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February 17, 2010 > Grimmer Greenbelt Gateway project moves forward

Grimmer Greenbelt Gateway project moves forward

By Steve Wyant

Grimmer Boulevard, from Paseo Padre Parkway to Fremont Boulevard, will be getting a major facelift. The current two-lane road, characterized by a large dirt shoulder and fenced off creek on the northwest side, will eventually grow to four lanes. A pedestrian and bike path will follow alongside and intertwine with a newly rebuilt meandering creek bank. The greenbelt-adorned roadway will eventually feed into a realigned Water Park driveway entrance, creating a four-way intersection at Paseo Padre Parkway.

At a January 26 meeting, Fremont Parks and Recreation Director Annabell Holland and City Engineer Norm Hughes presented the Grimmer Boulevard Greenbelt Gateway plan to the Fremont City Council, anticipating the project would consist of four phases. Phase I involves design changes to the Paseo Padre Parkway/Grimmer Boulevard intersection. Phase II enhances the creek and creates the pathways. Phase III involves the realignment of the Water park entrance, and Phase IV results in widening Grimmer Boulevard to four lanes.

A significant part of the project involves the creek, and creating something more "Guadalupe Parkway-ish" according to Holland. That will involve the cooperation of multiple entities: PG&E, Alameda County Flood Control and Water Conservation District, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, the City of Fremont, and the Fremont Redevelopment Agency all need to be involved in coordinating property boundaries and easements to allow for a new meandering creek alignment.

The Council awarded a $1 million contract to Gallagher & Burk Inc. for Phase I of the project. This first phase involves reconfiguring the intersection at Paseo Padre and Grimmer, with a goal of improving traffic flow at the intersection and providing better vehicle and pedestrian access to the Water Park. Changes include new median alignments and landscaping, new light pole locations, and changes to the crosswalk placement. The current medians that allow for left turns from Grimmer to merge into northbound Paseo Padre, while simultaneously allowing through traffic to flow on Paseo Padre will be removed, resulting in a more traditional "T-intersection."

The total cost of Phase I is estimated to be slightly under $1.5 million. $630,000 will come from Redevelopment Funds, while $870,000 will be "borrowed" from unused Traffic Impact Fee (TIF) funds from the Washington Boulevard/Paseo Padre Parkway Grade Separation Project. However, the TIF funds will need to be used for future transportation projects, so the City may ultimately seek additional redevelopment funding in the future to pay for the project, and reimburse the TIF fund. Phases II, III & IV do not currently have funding allocated for them, and their eventual completion dates are unknown.

The project is part of the Irvington Concept Plan adopted in 2004. In June 2007, the City Council approved the Grimmer Greenbelt Gateway project as part of the 2007/08 to 2011/12 Capital Improvement Program. The first phase was originally scheduled for next fiscal year, but the Water Park's first year of operation proved so popular that the city decided to move up construction on the intersection in an attempt to improve traffic flow for the upcoming season. Construction is scheduled to start this month, and is expected to be completed in May of this year, weather permitting.

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