Fremont Boulevard is one of the city’s most well-traveled corridors. It is a livewire of pedestrian, bicycle and vehicle travel. And it experiences serious issues with excessive speeds, collisions and fatalities. In 2015, The Fremont Vision Zero Status Report and Action Plan reported that 50% of the city’s fatalities occurred on segments of Fremont Boulevard. As a city, we knew something had to change, and with the Fremont Boulevard Smart and Safe Corridor project, that change is coming.
The project combines the qualities I love most about this city: visionary, innovative and people oriented. Through the creative use of smart signal and lighting systems, this traffic signal modernization project will enhance traffic safety, make our roadways more efficient and reduce transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions. But this vision didn’t just come from local leaders – the city of Fremont dreamt it together.
Over the summer, city officials conducted outreach to spread the word about the Fremont Boulevard Smart and Safe Corridor project, including holding community meetings, posting on social media, publishing articles in the local newsletter and showcasing the project at the Festival of the Arts. These outreach events reached hundreds of residents citywide and built community support for a plan we felt had to be a total community investment. Many residents were excited to see the city address safety and travel efficiency along Fremont Boulevard using cutting-edge technology.
The project’s proposed improvements will help increase visibility and enhance protections for pedestrians, schoolchildren and bicyclists, while improving the traffic flow and safety for all modes of travel. But the work doesn’t stop here. Fremont will conduct further outreach as the project progresses into the design and engineering phases and post construction, so that the community is aware of any new improvements along this important corridor.
It is my hope that the 10-mile section of Fremont Boulevard, between Paseo Padre Parkway and Cushing Parkway, will serve as a significant demonstration of traffic safety technologies and a test bed for new innovation opportunities to cities like ours across the country. Our once dangerous roadway can be a national model of how an auto-oriented suburb can evolve into a sustainable, strategically urban and modern city.
But of course, with a project of this scale and scope, you have to consider the money. The overall cost of the project is $10.5 million, with the majority of the cost dedicated to construction capital and support. Fremont secured a grant from the Alameda County Transportation Commission (Alameda CTC) to fund preliminary engineering, environmental clearance, design, outreach and construction.
Cities, towns, villages, states and Capitol Hill are at their best when they are working together. That partnership is what my city hopes will help us realize our vision of safety and efficiency.
Fremont would significantly benefit from additional funding at the state and/or federal level to modernize our transportation infrastructure. State and federal funding programs could help improve safety, congestion relief and emergency vehicle access, which are all not only relevant to this project, but to our community’s wellbeing citywide. Safety would be improved by the project’s automated bicycle and pedestrian detection, speed detection cameras and dynamic power management of streetlights. The project’s emergency vehicle exception would help streamline emergency vehicle access. Adaptive signal control, “smart parking,” and transit signal priority would help improve congestion relief.
Fremont is seeking a safer future using technology, but we know fully modernizing all traffic signals throughout our city will require $20 million in additional funding. That’s money a city, town or village can rarely afford on their own. Our nation needs to invest in infrastructure that is built for tomorrow, not the days of old.
Fremont is acting on the collective will and needs of our community, and we’re driving forward to new heights. By marrying technology with the city’s strategically urban vision, we aim to transform a heavily travelled corridor into a safe environment for pedestrians, cyclists and motor vehicles to travel together in harmony. The Fremont Boulevard Smart and Safe Corridor project is bold, inventive and for the people – and it is just the beginning.
About the author: Mayor Lily Mei was sworn in December 2016 as Fremont’s first woman and minority mayor in Fremont’s 63-year history. She first was elected to the Fremont City Council in 2014. Mayor Mei actively represents Fremont’s interest on critical infrastructure issues including transportation and housing. Currently, she serves on the Alameda County Transportation Commission as Chair for the I-680 Sunol Express Lane Joint Powers Authority, Vice Chair for the Goods Movement Planning Committee, and as a Member of the Planning, Policy and Legislation Committee.
In 2019, Mayor Mei was nominated to serve on the National League of Cities policy committees of Transportation & Infrastructure Services.