It would be hard even for me to be more negative about something than Fremont is towards Caltrans’ proposed safety improvements for Niles Canyon Road.
In an Oct. 7 letter to Caltrans, signed by City Manager Fred Diaz, Fremont requested Caltrans to come up with a new plan.
Caltrans’ proposal to make Niles Canyon Road safer includes chopping down 45o trees and building nearly two miles of concrete retaining walls. That will enable Caltrans to soften some of the sharpest turns, install more center medians, and widen lanes and road shoulders.
But Fremont argues that the retaining walls would attract taggers and that they would violate the city’s ordinance limiting development in the hills.
1) The city thinks trucks might be to blame for accidents on the winding road, and “The City of Fremont is interested in initiating the process of prohibiting tucks on Niles Canyon Road,” Diaz wrote.
2) The city thinks the Caltrans project will just increase speeds, which won’t make the road any safer.
3) The city thinks the retaining walls and the expected graffiti, “will ruin the association of the viewer with the immediate surroundings …” Translation — Niles Canyon won’t be such a pretty drive.
4) The city thinks Caltrans is poo-pooing the historical significance of the area — which has been documented by both film geeks and railroad dorks.
The city is asking Caltrans to consider two alternate proposals, which would involve less road widening and/or no trucks.
“The City of Fremont believes the current project’s significant impacts are overwhelming for the degree of improvements that are proposed.,” Diaz wrote. “We are interested in a design alternative that can improve safety without such intrusive impacts on the scenic character of Niles Canyon.”