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Business owner shares concerns about Winton Avenue widening project

By Eric Kurhi
Monday, March 21st, 2011 at 2:35 pm in Business, Development, Hayward, Transportation.

The owner of the Valero gas station at the corner of Winton and Hesperian Boulevard checked in to say he doesn’t think the roadway widening project is a good idea. The I-880/SR 92 Reliever Route Project “will provide for better access in and out of the industrial area located north of SR92 and west of I-880,” according to the staff report. Staff is recommending the City Council approve the project at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Owner of the gas station wrote a letter to the mayor, and included a graphic, laying out his concerns:

valeroDear Mayor Sweeney,

We are the owners, employees and customers of the Valero gas station, and residents living around the corner of West Winton Avenue and Hesperian Boulevard collectively organizing ourselves as the ‘People Power’ vs. Winton Mouth Widening. The City intends to appropriate a portion of the Valero lot to accommodate an additional lane to widen the mouth of West Winton Avenue by 400 ft. on the north side.

We oppose the widening for the following reasons:

I.                  It is a band-aid to a cancer. The cost does not justify the minimal impact of the additional lane to the over-all congestion on Winton Avenue. The existing two lanes, one exclusive for left turn and another for right turn, are hardly used because they are usually blocked, and therefore cannot be accessed by vehicles.

The choke point begins on the corner of Wright Dr. that stretches up to the corner of Stonewall Avenue. Once vehicles, a lot of them are those 53-footer container vans, pile up on the corner of Wright Dr., this additional lane would be hard to access, just like the two existing ones. Besides, the KEEP CLEAR painted sign on the corner of Wright Dr. will cut entry into the new lane even if Winton Avenue is widened beginning on the frontage of O.D. Signs building.

Unless westbound Winton Avenue is widened from the I-880 South ramp, the 400 ft. widening to a one-mile stretch of traffic congestion is by no means a solution.

Even Mr. Robert Bauman, director of Public Works of the City of Hayward, admitted that this widening project is, and I quote, an “imperfect solution”

during the February 17, 2011 public hearing on the I-880/SR 92 Reliever Route Project Phase 1 at the Ochoa Middle School on Depot Road.

In this time of budgetary crisis, when we are closing down schools and sacrificing other crucial social and public services, why waste taxpayers’ money on an “imperfect solution”. Besides, with business in the industrial area so dismal with the stretch of Winton Avenue and its outlying streets teeming with vacant spaces, the traffic study that was used to justify this project no longer reflects the true traffic situation in this corner.  And who knows when the elusive economic recovery will come, but the current flow of traffic in this corner is much better than before. As they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

IMPROVED TRAFFIC SIGNAL MANAGEMENT:

I practically live on this corner. I’m in this corner 7 days a week overseeing the management of our business, and based on my observation, and those of commuters and Hayward residents who patronize our gas station, this is what we suggest as a possible solution:

  1. The utilization of two existing lanes of the four-lane road is not optimized because of the traffic signal management. Vehicles on the two center lanes going through are stuck to a point where the lanes exclusively allotted for those turning left and right are blocked, and cannot be accessed, rendering them clear of traffic most of the time.
  2. The timing of the traffic lights on West Winton on the Valero side goes this way:  The southbound left turn in the direction of Chabot College goes simultaneously with the northbound left turn in the direction of A. Street from the Toys R’ Us corner.

The cars on the two center through lanes from the Valero side are stopped and so are those on northbound exclusive right turn lane as they have to wait for those cars making left from the Toys R’ Us side. With the northbound left turn kept on for so long, the traffic on the two through lanes stretches up to Stonewall Avenue and thereby blocking cars trying to occupy the southbound left turn lane and the northbound right turn lane.

While the northbound left-turning lanes continue going, the southbound left turn lane is suddenly stopped to let the eastbound through lanes towards I-880 pass, while still keeping the westbound through lanes towards Cabot Blvd. stuck.

This creates a bottleneck on Wright Dr. up to Stonewall Avenue, denying access to the existing dedicated left and right turn lanes. Once the flow of traffic is choked on Wright Dr. or from the opening of the widened West Winton mouth, the additional lane won’t be accessed, anyway.

Instead of an additional lane, why not let traffic on all four lanes let go at the same time. Instead of dedicating two southbound left turn lanes, why not keep one exclusive left-turn lane, an additional shared left/through lane and restrip the exclusive right turn into a shared through/right turn lane, then all let go at the same time to relieve congestion that stretches up to the I-880 South ramp. 

My other observation is that the KEEP CLEAR space on Odom is hardly used, and compounds the bottleneck; denying access to the exclusive left and right turn lanes. There are more cars turning right exiting our gas station than vehicles going in and out of Odom St., only because it’s scary to time your way out to cross going left onto I-880 North with oncoming traffic from west of Winton Avenue. Why not install a traffic signal instead, like the one on the corner of Hayward Blvd.and Tribune St., timed to turn on only when there are accessing vehicles, than laying it wasted vacant.

As residents, we abhor any widening for our own safety, and the degradation of our quality of life.  This project was designed to accommodate commute traffic and would not benefit Hayward residents.

The City of Hayward General Plan recognizes this when it states: “Although street widenings are intended to reduce congestion, such improvements can attract more traffic as a result of the increased capacity.  Also, in built-up urbanized areas, widenings frequently have taken right-of-way used for pedestrians and street trees, leaving inadequate building setbacks.  Wider streets generally discourage pedestrian crossings.  Alternatives to street widening, such as limitations on parking and turning and on driveway curb cuts, need to be evaluated as ways of increasing the capacity of arterials.”

II.               It is an abandonment of the City of Hayward’s General Plan in improving transportation movements. The plan calls for a direct access to the Southland Mall to relieve traffic congestion on Winton Avenue since oncoming shoppers are pushed forward up to Hesperian Blvd. to get to the mall, especially during the holiday shopping season.

And I quote: Access to Southland Mall is important to maintain its attractiveness and continued viability as a regional shopping center.  In particular, full access from I-880 must be ensured as part of any proposed transportation improvements.  In addition, improvements in traffic flow along the freeway ramps and adjacent arterials are needed to enhance accessibility and minimize the impacts of conflicting turning movements.

Why waste taxpayers’ money on an “imperfect solution” when the cost could be optimized if the city will only follow its General Plan (i.e. build a direct access to the Southland Mall)?

In a memorandum dated November 2, 2009 to Bimla Rhinehart, executive director of the California Transportation Commission, the City of Hayward recognized that the implementation of the SR 238 Hayward Bypass Local Alternative Transportation Improvement Program (LATIP), of which the direct access to the Southland Mall is a major component, points out to the easing up of traffic on West Winton Avenue: Even though extensive growth has occurred in 2025, the effect of the proposed network has improved conditions by diverting traffic away from former congested locations (e.g.: Foothill/Mission & Jackson Street improves from F to D and Hesperian & Winton Avenue improves from E to C).”  

III.           The widening will destroy our livelihood, and the way of life of thousands of commuters and residents relying on our cheap and reliable services.

The widening will eliminate the gasoline dispenser on the Winton Avenue side. With setbacks required by the City, the second gasoline dispenser on the same side would have to be eliminated too. Technically, there are only three functional pumps on this lot. Of the two other dispensers on the Hesperian Blvd. side, only one works because one is always obstructed when the other pump is in use. This will then leave us with one functional pump. Even if we operate with just one pump, accessibility to our lot would be severely restricted with the widening, therefore, discouraging customers.

This gas station, with its convenience store and auto repair shop, was built in the 1960s and has served the community well. It serves a purpose, and destroying an institution for a 400-foot-length of an “imperfect solution” to a traffic problem perpetuates a stereotype of a city hall indifferent to the sentiments of its residents.

We are the second-generation owners of this gas station, and our children are already involved in its operations, and, God willing, will soon take over ownership of this business, and hopefully, the succeeding generations after them. Our relatives and employees who started working here from the time this station was bought in the 1980s already have their children working here too. This has been a destination for thousands of commuters and Hayward residents alike, simply because we always offer the cheapest gasoline prices in the vicinity.

Even if we owe the banks about $1 million, we are just happy to take what can keep our simple lifestyle so we can share the rest to our employees and in keeping our street prices cheaper than everybody else.

We believe that the taxpayers will be better served if the city will not implement this widening project, and we hope you will consider our opposition to this project.

Thank you very much.

Respectfully yours,

Oscar Mirasol Quiambao

Owner, Valero Gas Station, 23990 Hesperian Blvd., Hayward Ca 94541

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  • qodrn

    Go Valero gas folks! This is a bad plan.

  • John W. Kyle

    All;

    Some years ago, I was selected as one of a dozen or more citizen representatives to serve on Hayward’s “Circulation Task Force.”
    ( A title which some saw as humorous since it was thought, in many minds, as being brought into existence as a means to serve a need of Daily Review.)

    As resident of the Longwood/Winton Grove neighborhood, I thought that the extension of West A to Corsair Blvd had an attraction worth considering. ( I was not sure about that route since it was upwind of my neighborhood and as this would add truck fumes to the problem of aircraft fumes and additionally, would raise hell with residents of San Lorenzo, an unincorporated community under governance by Alameda County but possessed of an effective Home Owners Association.

    San Lorenzo has difficulty with access to and from I-880 and I-238 freeway portion leading to I-580. Introduction of truck exhaust fumes to the traffic mix is seen as being only a problem to areas South of West A Street where ‘Haywardites’ live. ‘Haywardians’ live a bit further to the south and are unconcerned with health threats to children per a communication from a presently seated Council member a bit prior to eventual election.

    What amazes me is the fact that no consideration is given to the use of Clawiter Road, accesses to which are available from one or the other of two interchanges with State Rte 92.

    Using I-880 to access those two interchanges, via Rte 92, with overpasses, west of I-880 would be a time saver and a bit healthier for residents to say nothing of easing the present access problem, to and from Southland, one of Hayward’s two major local sales tax providers, yet remaining, since the loss of 238 Bypass saw the demise of many auto dealers along Mission Blvd.

    Clawiter may be a bit farther in travel distance but closer, in actual travel time, to eventual destination for ’big rigs’ traveling out of Oakland or off I-580 west bound trucks via I-238 and the Nimitz. but probably just as close in elapsed time and expended fuel expense, with less exhaust when considering traffic travel time on and jammed use of West Winton Ave.

    Wow! Two over crossings onto Industrial Blvd as well as Clawiter RD! One at Industrial Blvd on Rte 92 and the other at Clawiter / Rte 92 when sign directed traffic on and along West Winton Ave would alleviate the problem at Hesperian and W. Winton.

    If W. Winton Ave was limited to trucks with just three axles with a maximum weight or length restriction designed to force use of either of two Clawiter / 92 interchanges we could easily avoid destruction of private property and businesses.

    If you have not noticed or observed,Truck Traffic on W. Winton is thought to affect the Southland mall and nearby banks, office buildings restaurants etc… to say nothing of the residential properties near Southland Drive and the Southern end of Wright Drive.

    Then in addition, some political effort on the part of our City and County elected to office type folks, might see Cal- Trans being forced to consider a north bound I-880 off ramp at Industrial Blvd, offering access to Industrial Blvd where NB I-880 truck traffic would be enabled to access West Hayward as well as South East warehouse and industrial land uses within Hayward City limits’ without the need to impose access restrictions caused by traffic. would also offer, a left hand turn opportunity onto western end of Industrial Blvd. Additionally we would see an easing of traffic conditions which inhibit sales tax receipts at the Target store positioned in Hayward’s extreme Southeast Corner intersection at Whipple How the Home Depot Store is found by Hayward supported roadways while located in Union City near Whipple Ave intersection with ‘SW Industrial Pkwy‘. It is beyond my powers of understanding why The Home Depot in that area is located in Union City but accessed only through use of Hayward Streets which are certainly not maintained by Union City!

    Introduction of a Southbound entry onto I-880 from Industrial Blvd would also aid relief of traffic on east bound West Winton Ave.

    Make yourself aware that FAA , (a major gremlin,) has made some approved but not yet constructed changes to runway 28L location which now destroys the desired West A. St extension to Corsair Blvd. Abandonment of that plan is caused by imposition of a very expensive underpass, below sea level and the water table, where the runway is intended to cross over the path of a now abandoned connection of West A Street with Corsair Blvd. (Much to the relief of asthmatic kids and emphysema types living in Longwood / Winton grove neighborhood.)

    Our City Fathers are aware of FAA’s intention to remove the noise berm at the intersection of W. Winton and Hesperian. Removal is necessary to provide a better ‘clear area’ so that potential future failures of aircraft lift- off can be, presumptuously handled more safely. By golly when FAA wants something, you just know it is going to happen. FAA will have much egg on it’s face if failure to lift off is not confined to the airport and an airplane with two jet engines and a full load of fuel just happens to hit a few trucks in in the middle of that intersection.

    At age 80 and a few months, I hope not to be around when that eventual aircraft accident occurs; I don’t think my aging ears could stand the howl occurring with that perceived event. Especially when I might start shouting from my roof top…” I told you so !”

    So, is it impolite to say ‘hell no’ to a widening of West Winton? Those damn trucks impede shopping at Hayward’s Southland Mall and that impedes collection of sales tax benefiting Hayward.

    Rise up Haywardians!! Those ineffective politicians whom we made the mistake of electing are unable to see their hand in front of their own dang faces!

  • Monica Ruiz

    I vote no on this project.

  • John W. Kyle

    Monica;

    Too late for your vote/ Council voted to proceed on this last Tuesday. That does not mean construction starts today! Read what I say here then round up a frioend or two and present a protest at council’s next meeting!

    Not only is it an ignorant decision but they completely over look the problem with the new jet aircraft which, with a landing speed of 142 miles per hour also has need, (especially when loaded with fuel, people and cargo,) for a long distance takeoff. Thus the need for a crash zone at end of each runway.

    Be aware that if the pilot does not voluntarily abort the flight before he reaches the end of his takeoff run…. then he does not have control of any crash occurring in the ‘safe zone’ where presumably disintegration in the designed space for such to occur….just doesn’t fill the need in all possible scenarios!

    City claims it is necessary because FAA sees Hayward as the best place… then why introduce the same concept at Livermore????

    When the ‘noise berm’ at the sour east end of the runway, (that which is closest to Winton Ave ,is removed, (seen as a necessity for a ‘decent’ crash zone, then what is the defense against inept pilots who are unable to confine their ‘crash’ within the appropriate zone?

    Such a fcrash may not occur during my life time… but what assurance is that when I reveal the fact that I am 80 years of age?

    Conjecture on my part? Hell no! I do not see City Council as a saintly group whose powers of prayer are sufficient to avoid the inevitable! Such prayer, if indeed it occurs, is involved with the sin of presumption! A violation of the virtue of HOPE ! Which of itself is sinful!

    All must attempt to come to an understanding of Sullivan’s commentary on Murphy’s law !

    “Murphy was an optimist ! “

    Having come to an understanding of Sullivan’s commentary….. I suggest that you round up a few friends and rather than waste time registering an opinion, (short as it is,) as expressed above… make a trip to City Council’ at next public comment period present yourself and challenge them to a read of my memorandum submitted to them, on very short notice, and ask them to reconsider.

    Monica. That which appears above your most recent contribution is precisely what was placed before council just before the Council’s meeeting of March 22, 2011 !

  • Sherry Blair

    Imagine this:

    The city puts all it’s recommendations online at the same time they are presented to City Council. Then after the televised presentation a period of time is allowed for community conversations like this one online so we can see each other’s viewpoint and think together of what we want here in Hayward all before any action is taken.

    Imagine people from the city being available to educate us if they think we aren’t getting it and people from the community educating the city if we think they aren’t getting it. City council members could ask question. The community could offer better solutions and plans.

    That is transparency and communication! That is a true city-community partnership!

    What do you think?

  • Michael Moore

    Sherry it sounds like a perfect solution to issues that arise from folks that do not feel that they were included. I do not believe that this will happen until the city is compelled by law to do so. At present, they are not. The model of partnership presupposes that the interests of the city are in opposition to those of hte community. Depending on who you are that may in fact be true. The romance of democracy is that all is well for the 51 of 100 provided that two of them do not become disaffected and join the 49 who are constantly irritated.

  • Sherry Blair

    If we want change, we have to change our own thinking to a vision of what we want rather than what we fear. Then we have to treat each other as if we are better than we have been in the past. The future does not depend on the past, it depends on us working together to create a better future.

  • Michael Moore

    Sherry, well said. I believe that the focus creates the future, as you have said. The future is next.