HAYWARD -- On the first morning of a new one-way traffic loop downtown, most motorists seemed to be adjusting, though some drove the wrong way, and several pedestrians were seen jaywalking.
City Councilman Mark Salinas led a group of about 20 on a "Loop the Loop" walk Saturday morning. One of those joining him, Dominique Cervantes, said lots of people have chosen to not pay attention to warnings about the streets being converted to one-way.
"There were signs up all over telling them this was coming," he said.
Chabot College student Lindsay Ford, of Pleasanton, said the loop was great. "I think it will bring more jobs, with new businesses coming in," she said.
Councilwoman Barbara Halliday said the loop seemed to be working pretty well, though she acknowledged there were a few problems.
"I've seen people a little confused, and a few driving the wrong way, but hopefully they'll figure it out. It's in, it's working. I've heard a lot of compliments, especially about the work done on Mission (Boulevard)," she said.
The loop begins at the Foothill Boulevard-Mission Boulevard-Jackson Street interchange, goes north on Foothill to A Street, then west on A to Mission, where it heads south back to Foothill-Mission-Jackson.
It is the centerpiece of the Route 238 Corridor Improvement Project, which extends from Foothill at Interstate 580 south to Mission at Industrial Way. The $100 million project is intended to ease traffic congestion through Hayward. Road work began in 2010 and is scheduled to be finished in June.
Hayward Area Recreation and Parks Department director Paul Hodges was undecided on whether the loop will help traffic.
"The jury's still out. It looks pretty impressive," he said.
As Hodges walked along A Street, a driver a few feet in front of him started to turn the wrong way out of a driveway, almost broadsiding a police car. More directional signs are needed, at least temporarily, he said.
"Old habits die hard. Some people adjust quickly, and think everyone else does, too," Hodges said.
Hayward public works director Morad Fakhrai said workers were busy making more signs.
As he spoke, three pedestrians, including one pushing a baby stroller, jaywalked across Mission at A Street where a crosswalk had been removed Friday night. And a motorist driving the wrong way on Mission tried to turn the wrong way onto A Street.
Salinas combined the loop walk with Project EAT (Educate, Act and Thrive). More than 30 groups walked Saturday throughout the East Bay as part of the program's goal of encouraging healthy eating and exercise for students.
High school senior Cecilia Ceja, of Fremont, was walking as part of Project EAT. When the group turned onto Foothill, she said, "Oh, it's one-way now?"
Former Hayward City Councilman Kevin Dowling, who voted in favor of the project in 2007, joined Saturday's walk with his dog, Toto. "It's exciting. I think they did a great job. One-way streets are not that unusual in cities," he said.
Rocky Fernandez, a Hayward native, said he has some skepticism about the loop, "but I want Hayward to thrive."
Resident Lisa Towles was upbeat about the project.
"I think it's going to be great once everyone gets in the flow of things," she said. "A year from now, it will be as if nothing had happened."
Hayward has set up a website with details about the one-one way traffic loop: http://haywardloop.org