HAYWARD — As state officials scramble to fix Oakland's accident-damaged MacArthur Maze in record time, city officials in Hayward are trying to unravel their own transportation maze decades in the making.

In July, Hayward might have the beginning of a resolution.

But many downtown merchants and others fear the solution could be worse than the status quo.

City Councilman Kevin Dowling said he is keeping an open mind, yet feels about ready to give a go-ahead to the Route 238 Corridor Improvement Project — the controversial plan that would create a loop of one-way streets downtown, lay down a major new multigrade Five Flags intersection and revamp the roadway all along the Mission-Foothill corridor.

"This town has a history of fighting and fighting and fighting and not getting anything done," Dowling said. "I think we need to pull the trigger."

Friday is the deadline for the public to weigh in on the project's draft environmental impact report, and a number of local business people are using that process to call on the city to put a halt to the plan.

"I don't think it's a done deal," said project opponent Nathalie Nguyen, whose family owns La Patisserie Francaise on Mission Boulevard. "There's still some space in there to make them change their mind."

Among Nguyen's concerns is that the one-way loop of streets will hurt commerce downtown. She and others are also opposed to the razing of buildings to expand D Street.


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City engineers say that to make the project work, they would have to acquire and tear down businesses, including La Victoria's Restaurant.

"The freeway was supposed to bring business, not drive it away," Nguyen said.

Dowling points to the sections of the environmental impact report that predict the dangers of doing nothing. By 2025, he said, traffic in the area would be 36 percent greater than it is today, according to the report.

The proposed Route 238 corridor project, expected to cost well over $100 million, is an alternative to the plan by the state Department of Transportation for an elevated extension of Interstate 238 that would have coursed through the Hayward foothills toward Union City. That plan was defeated after decades of debate.

Dowling said he does not want to lose the crucial pot of money that was transferred from the freeway project to the local roadway project now underreview.

"We've tried everything we can do, and I think this is the best we can come up with," Dowling said. "You don't want to take any business or homes. You never do. But compared to what the 238 freeway would have done, this is nothing."

Several business owners and residents spoke out against the project during a Hayward Planning Commission meeting last week. After city officials accumulate and respond to the public comments due Friday, the City Council is expected to hold a hearing and make a decision on the road project in July.

Official written comments on the draft environmental impact report can be

e-mailed by the end of the workday Friday to Morad.Fakhrai@hayward-ca.gov or dropped off at Public Works Engineering & Transportation, City Hall, 777 B St.

For more information and an opportunity to comment on the process, visit The Daily Review's blog, The HayWord, at http://www.ibabuzz.com/hayword.

Matt O'Brien can be reached at (510) 293-2473 or mattobrien@dailyreviewonline.com.