HAYWARD -- Crews expect to wrap up roadwork through downtown by June 20, after more than a year of traffic backups, headaches for merchants and open sidewalk trenches.
But before then, anyone driving the route of the Route 238 Corridor Improvement Project may experience a few more backups and lane closures, project manager Kevin Briggs told merchants and residents at a monthly roadwork update meeting Thursday.
The $101 million Route 238 Corridor Improvement Project is designed to ease traffic congestion downtown and help commuters and local residents move more quickly through town.
It stretches from Mission Boulevard at Industrial Parkway north to Foothill Boulevard to the onramp to Interstate 580 at the northern end of town. Through downtown, the project includes a one-way traffic loop beginning at the Foothill-Mission-Jackson intersection, heading north on Foothill to A, turning east on A to Mission, then turning south on Mission back to the intersection with Foothill and Jackson.
Briggs acknowledges that motorists avoiding the roadwork though downtown have increased traffic on side streets.
"After work is complete, we will be looking at traffic that is cutting through the neighborhoods and what we need to do to that address that," he said. "We anticipate more people will be returning to the major streets after work is done."
Briggs said drivers could expect some delays as lanes are closed for spot repairs on downtown streets, which has already started. Final paving of the downtown loop and Mission south of the Foothill-Jackson interchange will start once those repairs are made, he said.
"Work should be substantially complete by June 20," Briggs said, although he added that sidewalk repair and other minor projects could last for another six weeks after that.
The upcoming roadway repair work will be done during the day, but the paving will take place at night, he said. After the pavement has set, workers will apply final striping on the streets.
Business owner Ray Baker complained that pedestrians had been ignored in planning the traffic project, and wanted to know when two crosswalks on A Street that were taken out when the loop began would be restored.
"All the emphasis on this project is on improving traffic, not pedestrians," Baker said.
Briggs said the crosswalk at Foothill and A is back in service. The crosswalk at A and Mission should be working by the end of May, he said.
The crosswalks were removed so traffic could move more smoothly through those intersections. But after merchants, residents and the City Council complained, a traffic study was done, and city engineers determined the pedestrian crossings would not cause traffic backups, Briggs explained later.
Workers will start planting trees downtown next week. And all the new traffic signal bridges have been installed, he said. "Tuesday, we turned on the Foothill-Mission-Jackson lights," Briggs said. "Traffic should be flowing better."
Ben Schweng, owner of Cyclepath on Foothill, said the loop presents a challenge for bicyclists, especially those heading east on A.
"Bicyclists going east on A are forced to turn right onto Mission. They then have to traverse five lanes to make a left turn on C Street, which is pretty dangerous. The turn onto Foothill from C Street is dangerous, too," he said.
The idea of adding a bicycle lane on A Street was rejected by Morad Fakhrai, Hayward public works director for engineering and transportation. There is not enough space for a lane and a buffer, he said.
Schweng later said he would be working with Fakhrai and others to come up with ways to make the streets safer for bicyclists. He challenged city officials, including the mayor, council members, engineers and planners, to join him for a bike ride through downtown to gain some insight into what bicyclists face.
"Let's ride the loop," Schweng said.