Caltrans Narrows Scope of Niles Canyon Widening Project


Overwhelmed by opposition from local community groups and the City of Fremont, Caltrans has gone back to the drawing board for the Niles Canyon Roadway Widening Project.  No longer included in the project is the addition of 10 ft  shoulders on both sides of the road for the entire length of the canyon. Instead, Caltrans is focusing on short term safety fixes, many of which can be good for bikes. And this is where we need your input.

East Bay Bicycle Coalition has requested the bike safety improvements included in our May 29, 2013 letter to Caltrans, many of which are listed below. We are following with Caltrans to invite them to join the Fremont Freewheelers on a First Saturday bike ride into Niles Canyon to survey our suggested bike safety improvements, and to meet with their engineers to review sections of the roadway where additonal shoulders are needed for better bike access.

Here is our list of bike improvements gathered at our April 7 advocacy ride thru the canyon. Send your additional ideas to Dave Campbell, Advocacy Director.

Flashing Beacons on Bridges: Caltrans is considering the addition of flashing beacons at the narrow bridge entrances, along with detectors and possibly countdown signals to alert motorists to the presence of a bicyclist on the bridge. We are looking for good examples of these types of advance warning systems for bikes. We know of the one in the Marin headlands as you head back into Sausalito through the tunnel. The details are still being worked out on how to make this work effectively for many levels of different skilled cyclists.

Greenback sharrows on Bridges: we are asking for the addition of greenback sharrows on the bridges, to highlight the presence of bicyclists and encourage motorists to slow down

Improved shoulders: Caltrans will be adding shoulders in spots in order to provide pullouts for motorists and to improve their safety. We have an opportunity to get some additional shoulder width added for bike safety too. Our advocacy ride on April 7 surveyed many of the sections of the canyon that need another 2-3 ft of shoulder width

New Bridge: the bridge just east of Palomares Rd will be completely replaced with a new bridge with wide shoulders for bicycling. In addition, the approaches to this new bridge will also be widened with better shoulders for riding.

Improved left turn onto Palomares Road: the left turn from Niles Canyon Road eastbound, onto northbound Palomares Road is difficult. Niles Canyon Rd curves and the nearby railroad abutment doesn’t help visibility. There is also debris that collects at this intersection and needs to be regularly swept.

Debris sweeping: there are a few spots in the canyon that gather rocks and gravel and are not regularly cleaned. Caltrans needs to provide a more regular street sweeping

Better storm grates: the water storm grates thru the undercrossing at the Sunol turnoff need to be raised or replaced. They currently function as large potholes and are a hazard.


Other ideas?

Caltrans Project Manager: Contact Cristina Ferraz Caltrans Project Manager Phone: 510.286.4833

View Niles Canyon Potential Bike Safety Improvements in a larger map

Old updates:

September 20, 2010 Update

At the September 21 City Council Work Session, Caltrans will present three proposed safety projects on Niles Canyon Road and discuss the benefits and environmental impacts of the projects. The work session begins at 6:30 pm, and will be held in the City Council Chambers, located at 3300 Capitol Avenue, Building A. Public comments are welcome. Full details at: Fremont City Council Website. The Council may not be aware, but there are three separate Niles Canyon roadway safety projects that are in various stages of development by Caltrans. The first project will start construction this fall. The second project is currently in the environmental stage and the Draft EIR is being circulated for public review and comment. Although the projects are intended to improve driver and is estimated to decrease bicyclist safety. The Council and the Fremont community have had very little opportunity to review and discuss these projects and this is your chance to let them know we want a safe bicycle route through Niles Canyon.

September 15, 2010 Update

Caltrans is reconsidering planned capacity improvements to Niles Canyon Road in the face of increasing opposition and concerns. “The East Bay Bicycle Coalition has come out in support of safety improvements, especially the wider shoulders, but stated in its letter that it feared the project would increase driving speeds and make the road feel more like an expressway.” Read the full story in the Oakland Tribune.

August 23, 2010 Update

The East Bay Bicycle Coalition has submitted formal comments on the draft Environmental Impact Report for the Niles Canyon Roadway widening project. We shared our appreciation for wider shoulders for cyclists to use, but also expressed our serious concerns about the expressway-like conditions being exacerbated by the project, the increased speeds, and most importantly the rumble strips. Read our August 23 letter to Caltrans This Project will be on the next Caltrans District 4 Bicycle Advisory Committee Meeting Agenda on October 20, 2010. Interested members are encouraged to attend. Thank you to everyone who contributed their comments, concerns and suggestions-you helped make EBBC’s official comments much stronger.

August 18, 2010 Update

KTVU ran a story August 18, 2010 about the Niles Canyon roadway widening project and, yeah, they had an agenda. They interviewed EBBC member Jon Spangler on site and it may have appeared that EBBC is opposed to the Project, which we are not. We are busy collecting input from our members, led by Wynn Kayagama and Michael Graff of Fremont, and will be submitting formal comments to Caltrans by August 23, 2010. Please contribute to this blog if you have ideas or concerns you would like us to share with Caltrans.

August 5, 2010 Update

Caltrans is preparing to conduct studies for incorporation into an Environmental Impact Report for the replacement of the existing Alameda Creek Bridge on Niles Canyon Road (Highway 84) approximately one quarter mile east of the intersection with Palomares Road. The brief description of the project indicates that the new bridge will be realigned for better sight distances, will include 13’ travel lanes, and 8’ shoulders, which should significantly improve bicycle safety. The .pdf link at the bottom of this page will open the full description.


  • Upcoming Public Meeting The scoping meeting for this study is scheduled for Wednesday, August 11, from 2:00 to 4:00 PM, at Caltrans District 4 Office, 111 Grand Avenue, Oakland.

August 2, 2010 Update

EBBC member Michael Graff attended the open house last Tuesday, July 27 and spent some time talking with project manager Ron Kiaaina as well as traffic engineer Saif Mamoon on this project. Michael learned that there is already a project to widen some of the western section, including the intersection at Palomares, including providing a left-turn pocket onto Palomares from Niles Canyon. Construction begins Spring 2011. Details at: Caltrans Niles Canyon Safety Project The basic motivation behind these projects is to bring the road up to current Caltrans standards. The tradeoff is a less scenic route that might encourage more and/or faster motor traffic. The Spring 2011 project is already planning on rumble strips. See our Rumble Strips Action Alert.

July 25, 2010 Update

Construction starts in 2012 on a major roadway widening project for Niles Canyon Road and the resulting project will include 8’ wide shoulders for better, safer bicycle travel. The new wide shoulders will extend from Alameda Creek Bridge to the SR24/I-680 Intersection just south of Pleasanton, and should be ready for cyclists in 2014. There are many opportunities to improve this project even more, thanks to Caltrans’ Complete Streets Policy that incorporates safe bicycle access into every department, from funding, planning, design, construction and operations. For example, the two existing bridges on this project are not being changed, but Caltrans can still make these bridges safer for cyclists to cross. Caltrans needs to hear from us! The Environmental Impact Report is out and available online at: EIR: Niles Canyon Roadway Safety Improvement Project EBBC member and super-volunteer Wynn Kayagama is reviewing the EIR providing EBBC’s official public comment. If you have ideas to share, please contribute them to this blog and EBBC will incorporate your thoughts/concerns into our response to Caltrans.

Public Comment Deadline: You are encouraged to provide public comment to Caltrans by the deadline of 5:00pm on August 23, 2010. Submit public comments to: Valerie Heusinkveld, Senior Environmental Planner Caltrans Office of Environmental Analysis P.O. Box 23660 MS 8B Oakland CA 94623-0660


Niles Canyon Road Now: niles canyon now

Niles Canyon Road Tomorrow: niles canyon now

File attachment: Image icon nilesCanyon_after.jpg Image icon nilesCanyon_before.jpg Image icon collage_niles_300.jpg PDF icon NilesCanyonEIR_EBBC.pdf Image icon railroadunderpass.jpg Image icon rickydebris.jpg Image icon idealShoulder.jpg Image icon narrowBridge2.jpg Image icon Finally_Some_Clear_Wiggle_Way_Finding.jpg Image icon palomaresTurn.jpg Image icon abutment.jpg Image icon ZSmOCymgWMaIYlv91d5tKmX0ux6tjWhtWK1WtaHtOS8.jpg PDF icon NilesCanyonBikeImprovements_EBBC.pdf