HAYWARD -- Although a one-way traffic loop began two weeks ago in downtown, the project is still very much a work in progress, city staff members said Thursday.
Still to be done: adjusting the timing of traffic signals to slow down drivers on Mission and Foothill boulevards and possibly restriping two A Street crosswalks that were eliminated, said Kevin Briggs, city project manager.
"We're working on a lot of different things that could be tweaked," Briggs told a monthly update meeting about the Route 238 Corridor Improvement Project on Thursday morning. Until the project is completed in June, the city is addressing problems as they come up, he said.
The loop is a key part of the $105 million Route 238 Corridor Improvement Project, intended to improve traffic flow for both local drivers and commuters heading through Hayward between Interstate 580 and the San Mateo Bridge.
Soon after the loop began on March 15, it was apparent that cars were going too fast on its streets and that traffic was backing up on adjacent roadways, Briggs said. And quite a few people have asked that the two crosswalks be brought back, he added.
"At Foothill and A and at Mission and A, we are looking at whether or not we can add pedestrian crosswalks," Briggs said.
One of those lobbying to restore the crosswalks is Councilman Francisco Zermeno. "I'm strongly in favor of making sure that every corner has a pedestrian crosswalk. We really need those crosswalks. We need to be pedestrian friendly, pedestrian centered," he said.
The city will decide about the crosswalks before May, when final paving downtown is scheduled to start, said Morad Fakhrai, Hayward public works director for engineering and transportation.
Timing of signal lights on the loop is being adjusted so that someone driving the 25 mph speed limit will encounter more green lights, helping move traffic through the area. "You're rewarding people who are driving the speed limit. If they're driving too fast, they have to stop," Fakhrai said.
After getting feedback about traffic backups on B and D streets, which both cross loop traffic, the city will be modifying signal lights on both thoroughfares so that they adjust according to traffic demand, Briggs said.
Eden Jewelry owner Allen Davidson, one of several merchants who attended the meeting, said that drivers zoom down Mission. "There's never any enforcement of speed limits," he said.
"Once this work is done, what are you going to do to advertise that downtown is open for business?" asked Alfredo Ornelas of Avocado Freddy's, who has closed his shop until the roadwork is complete.
Fakhrai said city will consider alerting people that the work is complete. "It's a good idea. It makes sense," he said.
Elie Goldstein, owner of Kraski's Nutrition on Foothill Boulevard, said in an interview that his business has dropped by 30 percent since the loop began, and he's heard from other merchants experiencing the same decline.
"The poles, the sidewalks, the landscaping look nice, but the thing is, if you put in a freeway that bypasses your downtown, how does that make it pedestrian friendly?" he asked. "My customers tell me that just to get around to get to parking is difficult."
Briggs said that some people had avoided the area since the loop began. "The loop scared them. But they're beginning to come back downtown," he said.
Among those frightened off is Roseann Castro, of Hayward. "I do want to drive it, but I have not yet. I don't really understand what they've done," she said.
Clara Waters calls the loop confusing. "I think it's the craziest idea they could have come up with. It just congests traffic," said Waters, who has lived in Hayward more than 40 years.
Briggs said traffic should move much better through downtown when paving is finished.
"Construction is not done yet," he said, "but we are making good progress."