Public Meeting of Dec 10, 2012 with Caltrans Indicates That They are Listening

About 100 citizens, A Fremont City Council member and representatives from several legislators’ offices attended the December 10, 2012 meeting arranged by
Caltrans to obtain initial public input on the Report of the Federal Highway
Administration and the Final Quantitative Road Safety Analysis Study Report concerning
safety on Niles Canyon Road (NCR) between Niles and Sunol.  The official titles of the reports are:
1.Road Safety Assessment (RSA), SR84 – Niles Canyon Corridor Alameda Co., California,
May 2012. (40 pages) It was prepared by the Federal Highway Administration
(FHWA) at the request of Caltrans.

2.Final Quantitative Road Safety Analysis Study Report- An Integrated Value Analysis (VA)/Road Safety Review Process, SR 84 – Niles Canyon Road Corridor, August 2012. (222 pages) It was prepared by an outside consultant group under contract to Caltrans.

Both of these reports along with other current materials pertinent to the ongoing
Caltrans review of safety in the Niles Canyon Road Corridor can be found at Caltrans’ webpage.

The meeting was moderated by Ron Kiaana, the Caltrans Project Manager for the SR-84
Niles Canyon Safety Improvements Project. A copy of the PP presentation used by Mr. Kianna is posted at the listed webpage.  Besides a brief review of the history of the project, especially for the last two years, Mr. Kianna made the following points.

  • Caltrans was operating from a clean slate. The previous three phase set of project plans were set aside
  • Caltrans intended to work with residents and local jurisdictions every step of the way in a transparent manner.
  • The RSA & VA reports list several levels of safety improvements which can be pursued in a phased manner.

A significant portion of the meeting was allocated to the attendees to voice
their views on the two reports. Residents from Fremont/Niles, Sunol, Union
City, The Sunol Citizens Advisory Committee, Save Niles Canyon, Citizen’s Committee
to Complete the Refuge, Save our Sunol, LEAF and the Alameda Creek Alliance
presented comments. Three central themes emerged from the attendee’s comments:
a) the reports identified specific locations along the NCR which could benefit
from some safety upgrades; b) Caltrans should initially consider applying a
number of appropriate safety upgrade suggestions, i.e. least disruptive and
most economical, from the 2 reports (the Short Term Improvement Measures); and
c) Caltrans needs to monitor the impact of the appropriate short term measures
over time, e.g. ten years, before considering additional more complex fixes.

In summary the meeting was viewed as positive by those in attendance however a lingering concern remains given the past attitude and approach used by
Caltrans.  This lingering concern was highlighted when a Niles resident asked Caltrans if one of their short term improvement measures- Relocate select
fixed objects immediately adjacent to roadway-
included cutting down trees.
Caltrans responded that it did but only trees within a short distance of the
roadway.  However Caltrans (Ron Kiaana) promised to discuss all such steps with the public prior to taking any action.

A very complete news report on the meeting can be found in the Fremont Bulletin of December 28, 2012

Caltrans has indicated that they will continue to accept public comments on the two
reports and the meeting presentation until 15 January 2013.  Therefore
you still have an opportunity to provide input should you wish to do so.

The Alameda Creek Alliance, serving as the lead for a Coalition of 12 organizations
sent a letter to Caltrans on 1 January 2013.  A copy of the letter is posted on
the Alameda Creek Alliance webpage. You can access the ACA webpage uisng the link provided under LINKS. Go to the Niles Canyon topic and click on January 2013 Coalition Letter. You are welcome to reference it in any written comments you make to Caltrans.

The next step will be for Caltrans to coordinate a meeting among stakeholders in
the project for late January or early February 2013. Save Niles Canyon group
sends representatives to stakeholder meetings.

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