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Posts Tagged ‘Fremont’

Warm Springs is what BART calls an “automobile-access” station. No expense was spared in building new roads and highways for convenient car access. It has a huge parking lot, tricked out with solar panels and other “green” features.

The pedestrian access on the other hand…

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The photo above is Warm Springs Blvd, at the east entrance to the station. Those signals are totally new, and provide car access to the station. But as you can see, they lack pedestrian signals, and there are no crosswalks. The signals only permit cars to cross, not pedestrians. A pedestrian crossing the street (say to the business park on the other side), has no easy way to do it. The nearest intersection with ped signals is at Grimmer Blvd  — a half-mile detour just to cross the street. And in any case, there is no sidewalk on the other side of Warm Springs Blvd, even though the road was completely re-built. So the detour would involve walking out in the roadway.

The other roads in the station neighborhood are no better. Fremont Blvd, along the west side of the station, lacks sidewalks on both sides of the street. The speed limit is 45 mph (with actual speeds much higher), so you can imagine what that is like for pedestrians:

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And here is Grimmer Blvd, along the north side of the station, which also lacks basic pedestrian accommodation:

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North of the station, Warm Springs Blvd changes name to Osgood Rd. But it has the same crappy pedestrian access. Pedestrians must get by on a weed-choked dirt path:

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These terrible conditions are not due to any lack of time or money. The Warm Springs station went through 10+ years of design and construction. During that time, vast sums were spent “improving” roads and freeway interchanges around the station, but not a single thing done for pedestrian access. From almost every direction, it is impossible to safely walk to the station.

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Dangerous double-right turn in Fremont

Over the past year, Fremont has been busy striping new and improved bike lanes. Many of the projects are quite good, in particular the road-diet on Paseo Padre, and buffered bike lanes to the BART station. But then, they went and did this monstrosity:

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Before this right-hook bike-lane went in, the street had just a single right-turn lane. So the new configuration just made things much more dangerous.

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Fremont Public Works informs me that there are no plans to remove bike lanes at the Grimmer/Blacow intersection:

The project will extend the bike lanes to the intersection crosswalk lines and install new bike detection loops and bike detection legends at all approaches.

While certainly good news, this does not change the fact that a Safe-Routes-to-School grant was used mainly for an automobile LOS improvement project.

The primary safety issue at the intersection isn’t the right-turn slip lane, but the ludicrously high traffic speeds. Blacow and Grimmer were both designed to encourage dangerous speeding. Just ask Leon and Marilyn Goheen, whose property borders Grimmer Blvd. On eight separate occasions, cars have gone flying off “dead man’s curve” and landed in their back yard.

If you want to make Grimmer Blvd safer for students, bulb-outs aren’t going to cut it. And adding automobile capacity makes it worse.

 

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Safe-Routes-to-School (SRTS) grants are supposed to improve bike and pedestrian access to schools. The city of Fremont has discovered a new way to use this funding source: to widen intersections and remove bike lanes. Cyclists biking past Irvington high school now have to contend with this:

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You can see where the bike lane used to be. It was removed to make way for an additional left-turn lane. Cyclists now have to “share” the lane with 40+ mph traffic through a heavily used intersection. The Grimmer Blvd bike lane is a key part of the south Fremont Bike Plan, providing a connection to the new Warm Springs BART station. As well, pedestrians at the Grimmer/Blacow intersection will now have to cross 2 additional travel lanes.

Incredibly, this was all made possible by a California SRTS grant, which provided the bulk of the funding of the intersection “improvement” project. Fremont cleverly split the project up so that the SRTS grant paid for the expensive new signal and sidewalk changes, while the the new left turn lane was paid with non-SRTS funds.

Council gave the project a CEQA negative declaration (i.e. exempt from environmental review) because it would have “minor” impacts. The Staff Report to Council makes no mention of the bike lane removal. This raises the troubling question as to whether Fremont City Council or Caltrans was aware of the bike lane removal in approving the project.

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Here is a photo of new transit-oriented development under construction at the Fremont BART station. This is a prime location, directly outside the West entrance.

Yes, it is a parking garage, of course. That is how we do TOD in the Bay Area.

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Plans are taking shape for the area around the new Warm Springs BART station. As typical for suburban BART stations, the plans entail large amounts of parking:

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To give the neighborhood an urban-look, the parking garages are placed inside or below buildings:

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For each residential unit within 1/4 mile of the BART station (i.e. 5-minute walk), Fremont’s zoning code requires 1.5 parking spaces . Beyond the 1/4-mile threshold, the requirement increases to 2 parking spaces. These parking requirements apply even to the affordable housing.

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It is amazing how the highway lobby gets their hands on all the money. When a BART extension project took tracks over Mission Blvd in Fremont, the highway lobby used the opportunity for a massive $150 million road widening:

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This monster freeway interchange lies just south of the new Warm Springs BART station. The entire station area has been surrounded by a moat of highways and freeway interchanges.

Even though there have been various bike plans for the south Fremont area, none of it has been built (unless you count riding on the shoulder of a high speed arterial). So good luck using the new BART station to generate walkable, bikeable TOD development that was promised. And anyone dumb enough to try biking through there will suffer the consequences.

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