Niles Blvd and Rancho Arroyo "Safe and Complete Streets" Project

Niles Boulevard 

The City of Fremont has developed a “safe and complete streets” project for Niles Boulevard between the Niles Bridge and Nursery Avenue to improve safety on a corridor with a history of serious traffic crashes and excessive speeding and to provide quality facilities for all roadway users.

Niles Boulevard is designated as an arterial in the City’s General Plan and carries approximately 17,000 vehicles per day. Niles Boulevard is fronted by residential uses, places of worship, and a school. Niles Boulevard has two lanes per direction but narrows to a single lane per direction at the Niles Bridge and at the Niles/Nursery intersection. Niles Boulevard has a posted speed limit of 40 mph (which drops to 35 mph north of the Niles Bridge and to 25 mph south of Hillview Ave). Between 2013 and 2018, there were two major crashes along Niles Boulevard including one involving a vehicle running off the road due to excessive speed and another involving a pedestrian who was struck and killed crossing at Rancho Arroyo.

At a community meeting on April 18, 2019, the City received the following feedback from the community regarding Niles Boulevard; 

  • Many residents have noted that making left turns from the side streets (Rancho Arroyo Parkway, Rock Ave, El Portal Ave, Linda Ave) onto Niles Boulevard is very difficult due to the volume and speed of traffic
  • Many residents have expressed that speeds on Niles Boulevard are too high and that crossing the street as a pedestrian is difficult
  • Residents have expressed concerns regarding cut-through traffic, particularly commuters from the
    Decoto/Dumbarton corridor using Niles/Nursery as an alternate route to get to Mission Blvd

A follow-up on-line survey was conducted to capture the elements that the broader community wanted in the safe and complete streets project.  The survey revealed that most Niles residents support making safety improvements but also preferred maintaining four vehicle lanes. You can review survey results here.

Based on the feedback from residents in the Niles community, the City is planning to install safety improvements on Niles Blvd to be completed in 2020, that includes the following project elements: Please see conceptual plans

  • Traffic signal at Rock Avenue
  • Flashing beacons at the pedestrian crossings at Rancho Arroyo Parkway and El Portal Avenue
  • Concrete bulbouts to reduce vehicle speeds and crossing distances at Rancho Arroyo Parkway, Rock Avenue, and El Portal Avenue
  • Vehicle travel lanes narrowed to help reduce speeds on Niles Blvd.  

With the completion of the above street design changes, it is anticipated that the speed limit on Niles Blvd can be reduced from 40 MPH to 35 MPH.  The setting of speed limits is governed by State laws and is based on a study of actual vehicle speeds.

Rock ave

Rancho Arroyo Parkway

Rancho Arroyo Parkway was a wide four-lane roadway designed as an arterial street with a plan to eventually connect the roadway across the railroad tracks to Mission Boulevard.  As part of the latest General Plan update, Rancho Arroyo Parkway was reclassified as a two-lane local collector roadway, which is consistent with the 2,100 vehicles it carries per day.  The City’s Bicycle Master Plan envisioned buffered bike lanes along Rancho Arroyo Parkway and the City’s Pedestrian Master Plan identifies four uncontrolled crossings along Rancho Arroyo for enhancement.  Additionally, the City has received concerns from the community about parking shortages and spillover parking from the apartment complexes between Rock Avenue and Rancho Arroyo Parkway.

Rancho Arroyo AFTER

In October 2018, the City implemented “safe and complete streets” improvements along Rancho Arroyo Parkway as part of a pavement maintenance project. These improvements included converting the four-lane roadway to a two-lane roadway with parking and buffered bike lanes to be consistent with the City’s planning documents and to address the community’s parking issues. 

At the April 18, 2019 community meeting, the City received feedback from the community that the roadway striping changes encouraged pedestrians to walk in the bike lane since the west side of Rancho Arroyo Parkway did not have a sidewalk.  The follow-up on-line survey revealed that approximately 70% of local residents support the “safe and complete streets” design that allows for buffered bike lanes and on-street parking but that a new sidewalk should be provided on the west side of Rancho Arroyo Parkway.

After receiving feedback from local residents through the community meeting and on-line survey, the City plans to retain the current design on Rancho Arroyo Parkway with two vehicle lanes, buffered bike lane and on-street parking.  To address concerns about pedestrian safety on Rancho Arroyo Parkway, the City plans to add a sidewalk on the west side of Rancho Arroyo Parkway that will be included as part of the overall Niles Blvd improvement project and proposed for completion in 2020.

City Council Meeting on December 3, 2019

The results of the community outreach process and the proposed plans for the Niles Blvd and Rancho Arroyo Safe and Complete Streets Project will be presented to City Council on December 3, 2019 at 7:00PM at the City Council Chambers.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why is the City implementing narrower travel lanes?  Do narrower travel lanes make roads less safe?

Fremont is implementing 10’ wide travel lanes on arterial roadways as a measure to manage speed and improve safety for all road users, consistent with its Vision Zero traffic safety policy.  Previously, many Fremont streets had lane widths of 12’ or greater, which is the design standard for high speed freeways carrying interstate trucks.  In general, wide lanes enable “freeway speeds” on local streets.  National research and studies indicate that 10’ travel lanes on local roadways result in reduced vehicle speeds and lower crash rates.  Fremont has seen a more than 50 percent reduction in severe injury and fatal crashes since it adopted its Vision Zero policy and began implementing “safe and complete street” design standards (including narrower lanes) in 2015.
Vision Zero Trend

What effect has the narrower travel lanes had on Rancho Arroyo Parkway?

Based on a before and after study, vehicle travel speeds on Rancho Arroyo Parkway have reduced since the implementation of the safe and complete streets project.  As a result, the speed limit on Rancho Arroyo Parkway is proposed to be lowered from 30 MPH to 25 MPH in early 2020.  

Why is the City allocating so much roadway space to bicyclists when there are so few bicyclists today?

The proposed project seeks to increase safety for all road users.  Niles Boulevard is one of the City’s Safety Priority Streets – the 10 percent of city streets on which 90 percent of fatal crashes have occurred.  The City has received numerous complaints from residents who live along this section of Niles Boulevard related to excessive speeding.   The reduction in travel lanes and narrower lanes are primarily intended to reduce excessive speeding and shorten crossing distances for pedestrians.  A great benefit to narrowing vehicle travel lanes is that additional space created is then added to the bike lanes.     

Why can’t the City enforce speed limits rather than redesigning streets?

The Fremont Police Department Traffic Enforcement Unit conducts focused speeding enforcement in known “hot spot” areas but it has limited resources that do not enable it to be in all high priority locations at all times.  Redesigning the street so that excessive speeders cannot weave between lanes and make unsafe passing maneuvers will ensure that dangerous behavior does not happen when PD cannot be present.  Redesigning streets has the best potential for long-term sustainable safety improvements and impacts on driver behavior.

Why is the City proposing a new traffic signal at Rock Avenue?

When a safe and complete streets project was proposed for Niles Boulevard, one of the major issues raised by the residents was the difficulty making left turns onto Niles Boulevard from the minor side streets.  The project initially proposed an all-way stop control at Rock Avenue, but the feedback received from the on-line survey and community meeting on June 20, 2019 was that an all-way stop would create longer queues of cars that may exacerbate access issues for the minor side streets.  A solution to address access issues was a traffic signal at Rock Avenue that would create the necessary gaps for residents to make left turns onto Niles Boulevard.  Rock Avenue was chosen since it was close to the midpoint of this segment on Niles Boulevard, and a traffic signal at Rancho Arroyo Parkway may negatively impact operations at the intersection of Nursery Avenue.

Was there a covenant or agreement that restricted parking on Rancho Arroyo Parkway?

There are no records of a covenant or agreement.  Records indicate that a Condition of Approval was placed on a Planned Unit Development project in 1972 to require that the project provide on-site parking in the amount of one space per unit and 0.5 guest spaces per unit.   At the time, the development was required to "install NO PARKING signs on the apartment side of Rancho Arroyo Parkway prior to occupancy." An additional point of context is that the development was approved at a time when Rancho Arroyo Parkway was a four-lane road and there was not sufficient space to accommodate parking.  A Condition of Approval is placed on the use of private property and does not apply to the City's operation of the roadway in a manner that best addresses current circumstances.

The Casa Arroyo Apartments has guest parking spaces available during the evenings.  Can those guest parking spaces be converted to resident parking spaces?

The Casa Arroyo Apartment complex has met all necessary parking requirements for resident and guest spaces that are required by the Fremont Municipal Code and their development permit.  The City of Fremont does not have any authority regarding how those parking spaces are managed by the Casa Arroyo Apartment complex. Having 0.5 guest parking spaces per unit is standard for apartment complexes.

Can a Residential Permit Parking program be established to address parking issues?

Residential Permit Parking (RPP) programs are intended to address neighborhood parking issues and intrusion caused by external sources not associated with the neighborhood.  The parking demand and related issues experienced by Niles residents living off of Rock Avenue and Rancho Arroyo Parkway are generated by members of the community and would not qualify for a RPP program.

How will Niles Boulevard/Nursery Avenue intersection change with this project?

The subject project is not changing the configuration of the Niles Boulevard/Nursery Avenue intersection.  A separate project is planned to include improvements on Nursery Avenue associated with implementing a railroad quiet zone. Information on the Nursery Avenue Quiet Zone project is available on the Nursery Project webpage 

Will the project add parking on Niles Boulevard?

The project will not add parking on Niles Boulevard.

Future Updates

Further information about proposed improvements will be communicated through updates to this project webpage with email notifications to the interested residents and stakeholders. If you would like to be added to the project contact list, please send a request.