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August 27, 2013 > What the infrastructure is happening in Fremont?

What the infrastructure is happening in Fremont?

A chat with City of Fremont Public Works Director Jim Pierson

TCV: Several major projects are occurring simultaneously in the Warm Springs District of Fremont. Are they coordinated?

Pierson: Yes, the City of Fremont decided to coordinate work between San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), Santa ClaraValley Transportation Authority (VTA) and Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART). It would be inefficient to repeatedly shift traffic each time one of these entities began work. We wanted to understand all of the impacts to minimize disruption and effectively communicate with the public.


TCV: The alignment of Mission Boulevard at I-680 has been temporarily changed. Why?

Pierson: One major project underway is a seismic upgrade of Hetch Hetchy water pipelines that come through Fremont in two multiple pipe groups. These are huge pipes approximately six feet in diameter. During the past several years, these pipes have been replaced along the route that skirts the edge of Central Park along Grimmer Boulevard and travel across the Bay. Now SFPUC is working on the southern group of pipes that travel through the Warm Springs District and around the south end of the Bay, serving portions of Santa Clara County and San Mateo County. Both routes end at Crystal Springs Reservoir that serves San Francisco.

At Mission Boulevard and I-680, the pipeline crosses the Hayward Fault. Unique joints will allow the pipeline to expand and contract approximately six feet and flex horizontally and vertically. Obviously, maintaining water flow in the case of a major earthquake is vital to fighting fires and survival. This is part of a multi-million dollar project to upgrade the pipes and address seismic issues including replacement of Calaveras Dam that straddles the Calaveras Fault.


TCV: Why is West Warren Avenue between Mission Falls Court and Kato Road closed?

Pierson: The City of Fremont has allowed that portion of Warren Avenue to be closed until next June for construction of a grade separation similar to what was done at the other end of Kato Road. The roadway drops below an at-grade crossing for BART and Union Pacific Railroad. The difference is that at Warren, there will be three bridges rather than two; an additional bridge will serve a truck-rail transfer facility south of Warren Avenue.


TCV: Are there any plans for the continuation of Kato Road connecting Tesla Motors and Warren Avenue?

Pierson: At some point, the City would like to convert that private access road to a public street with sidewalks and bike lanes. We even have long range plans for a bike and pedestrian bridge over I-880 just south of Tesla so people can ride their bike from the BART station to the Bayside Business Park.


TCV: What is being done to Osgood Road/Warm Springs Boulevard to facilitate traffic flow to the new BART station?

Pierson: BART will improve the frontage and Warm Springs Boulevard at the station and the intersection of South Grimmer Boulevard and Warm Springs. The City of Fremont has a fully-funded project that has completed most of the design work and is moving toward property acquisition to widen Warm Springs Boulevard to two lanes in each direction with bike lanes, curb, gutter, sidewalks, street lighting and raised medians from the BART improvements to Mission Boulevard. This will similar to what was done at Osgood Road between Washington Boulevard and Automall Parkway. BART is adding traffic signals at two of the three entrances. The City is providing for a future signal at the intersection of Warm Springs Court and Warm Springs Boulevard which will be improved. If development creates the need, more signals may be added in the future.


TCV: How will improvements to Warm Springs Boulevard affect traffic?

Pierson: Although there may be interruptions, since the road currently carries one lane of traffic in each direction, additional lanes can be added while maintaining the current flow, similar to construction of additional lanes on Osgood Road. New roadway is constructed and then traffic moved onto it while resurfacing and upgrading existing roadway.


TCV: What is the layout of the Warm Springs BART station?

Pierson: It is just the opposite of the current Fremont station. Instead of entering at ground level and going up to a platform to board trains, people will enter above the trains and take stairs, elevator or escalator to the trains at ground level.


TCV: Is there any plan to install solar panels at the Warm Springs BART station?

Pierson: The current design/build contract has no provision for solar panels. However, there is a plan to install solar on the roof of the station and possibly on canopies over the bus and pick up/drop off areas. This would be included in a future contract.


TCV: Will the new station be LEED certified?

Pierson: Although it is planned to be LEED certifiable, they do not plan to go through the expense of the certification process. Many LEED design principles are being used in the design.


TCV: How is the work phased?

Pierson: The Warm Springs Station is an ongoing element since there are so many facets to it. It began with construction of an underground water retention vault under the future parking lot to satisfy regional water quality regulations. The foundation of the new station has been constructed and now the superstructure is being built. Opening is scheduled for late 2015.

In order to create a level track bed, retaining walls, substructure and grading are in progress. Conduit is designed to carry power systems, communication and train signaling along the edge of the trackway. Minor creek crossings require culvert work and power substations, one of which will be located at the City of Fremont maintenance facility. In the future a pedestrian and bicycle path will be built along the BART access road that parallels the tracks. Rails are scheduled to be installed starting mid-2015, followed by extensive testing.


TCV: Will the Warm Springs extension include any track beyond the station?

Pierson: Just a bit beyond as "tail tracks" south of the station to allow the trains to switch between platforms. The existing Fremont station uses crossover tracks prior to entering the station. VTA will then be able to extend BART from the tail tracks without disrupting ongoing operations.


TCV: What is going on at the Walnut Avenue BART overpass?

Pierson: At this time, utility relocation is occurring. In the fall of this year, BART will begin construction of an embankment to continue the tracks from the existing station over Walnut Avenue. This work will probably last for over a year. Lane closures and restricted access is probable during this period. The bridge will be a "clear span" without a center column. The traffic signal will probably be relocated to just east of the new bridge.


TCV: Is the schedule for VTA extension of BART to Milpitas and San Jose on the same timeline?

Pierson: VTA is on a different schedule. That construction is about two years behind the Warm Springs station. They are working on completing bridges at Kato Road, Warren Avenue and Mission Boulevard using contractors just as BART used a separate contractor for the subway box at Stevenson Boulevard and under Central Park/Lake Elizabeth. The following contractor is hired to design and build the remaining work.


TCV: Will an Irvington Station be built?

Pierson: At this time it is uncertain whether an Irvington station will be built but BART will make sure that any work done will not preclude its construction. They are putting in track and systems that could accommodate a station at that location. The City, through prior Fremont Redevelopment funding, paid for the installation of beams that could support a station as well as an access pipe for equipment and personnel between both sides of the track. This will save millions of dollars if an Irvington Station is ever constructed. Although BART and the City own some property at that location, additional acquisitions will be necessary to build a station.


TCV: Any news on the extension of Capitol Avenue to Fremont Boulevard?

Pierson: We are in a property acquisition phase. Council has adopted a Resolution of Necessity to acquire the property where CitiBank is now located. The extension will intersect with the existing traffic signal on Fremont Boulevard. It is being designed in-house; we are about halfway though that process.

The City is negotiations with TMG, our master developer, to create residential/mixed use on City property between State Street and Fremont Bank. We are trying to create more walkable blocks in the downtown area so north/south streets are planned from Capitol Avenue. Ultimately, access to areas such as the current Gaslight Square property will be via side streets. The frontage of Fremont Boulevard would become retail and angled parking without many driveways.

In the long term, the corner of Capitol Avenue and Fremont Boulevard is envisioned as a "linchpin" for downtown. Another street would connect the extension of Capitol Avenue to a "Middle Road" parallel to Capitol Avenue. These major changes are many years in the future.

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