01 May 2006

Fremont's traffic situation

When news about the Pacific Commons location came out weeks ago, one of the chief complaints was related to traffic. The idea was that a Fremont-based ballpark would only exacerbate existing commute problems. However, I am here to tell you today that most of that claim is wrong.

Before I go further into "why" it's important to understand how the commute through South Fremont compares to others in the Bay Area. Throughout the dot-com boom era, the routes from Alameda and Contra Costa Counties into Silicon Valley were nearly unbearable. With the bust came relief for many commuters, enough that no part of the East Bay-South Bay commute is on MTC's Top Ten list. That's not to say the area isn't congested - it definitely is - but the picture of gridlock many have painted simply isn't there. It should continue to get better as additional improvements are made in the area. Among these changes:

  • Widening 880 between Mission Blvd (262) and 237. A revamped 880/237 interchange has helped to get commute traffic better separated from Milpitas local traffic, but it's the widening of 880 that will have truly significant effects.

    The diagram above shows the existing bottleneck on the left. Three lanes to handle converging traffic is a recipe for delay. Once widening is completed, 680-based/bound and HOV traffic will be separated from the existing north/south flow. Of course, that relief won't be fully realized until the...

  • Completion of the 880/Mission Blvd interchange. Scheduled for opening in 2008, this new interchange will solve two big traffic problems by providing a direct route for 680-based/bound traffic and by offering a separate exit ramp for local traffic, which according to ACTA, accounts for 45% of the area's congestion. Clearly, the original designers of the interchange had no idea that so much development would spring up around South Fremont.



    There will still be an issue in routing HOV traffic from 880 to 680, but solutions for that issue are in planning stages as well.

The 880/Mission construction project also causes a southbound bottleneck in the afternoon. Once completed, this should be eliminated since traffic is not particularly heavy at that time and in that direction. Along the 880 corridor, the 880/92 interchange would be the one remaining bottleneck. On 680, traffic should be fairly smooth, except perhaps for the area near 580 and Stoneridge.

The end result would be that if you're driving to Fremont from elsewhere in the East Bay for an A's game, you shouldn't be adversely impacted. If you're coming from the South Bay, you'll have to contend with an existing commute backup, but one that will be made much more bearable with the improvements that should be completed well before a first pitch is thrown in a Pacific Commons ballpark. If you're coming from the Peninsula, you'll still have to contend with a bridge.