Niles Blvd and Rancho Arroyo "Safe and Complete Streets" Project
The City of Fremont has developed a “safe and complete streets” project for Niles Boulevard between the Niles Bridge and Hillview Drive 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. Since 2013, there have been a number of crashes along Niles Boulevard, including two pedestrian fatalities. The more recent crashes in 2020 are further discussed in the Frequently Asked Questions section.
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 that includes the following project elements:
- Traffic signal at Rock Avenue Niles Boulevard Concept Plans
- Flashing beacons at the pedestrian crossings at Rancho Arroyo Parkway and El Portal Avenue
- Vehicle travel lanes narrowed to help reduce speeds on Niles Blvd.
The City developed two design alternatives for the intersections at both Rock Avenue and Rancho Arroyo Parkway:
- The first alternative maximizes pedestrian and bicyclist safety by reducing crossing distances and areas of conflict with vehicles. This alternative also allows for the conversion of one vehicle thru lane into a dedicated right turn lane to separate vehicle movements.
- The second alternative minimizes the motorist/vehicle impacts at each intersection while still providing safety improvements at the crossing locations.
Another follow-up survey was conducted in March 2020 to gauge the community’s preferred design alternative. The majority of the community supported the second alternative as most residents wanted the project to maintain four vehicle thru lanes on Niles Blvd, to provide unobstructed right turn movements, and to minimize the extent of the bulb outs at the intersections. Attached are the final design concept plans for the Niles Blvd intersections at Rock Avenue and Rancho Arroyo Parkway incorporating the community’s feedback on the intersection design elements.
The survey to submit your design preference and comments closed on April 20, 2020.
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.
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 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 lanes 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. The project will also feature a landscaped median island to continue the parkway design treatment towards the Niles Blvd intersection.
During the March 2020 survey, residents questioned the City’s authority to install the sidewalk on Rancho Arroyo Parkway based on “conditions of approval” for a private development project in 1972 which did not include a sidewalk. Per the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1992, the City is required to provide a continuous accessible path for pedestrians in the public right of way. The City has been systematically building sidewalks citywide as funding allows while prioritizing locations with the greatest pedestrian demands, such as along walking routes to schools and transit stops. ADA supersedes any previous local policy actions that may have prohibited providing sidewalks on Rancho Arroyo Parkway.
Further information about proposed improvements will be communicated through updates to this project web page 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.