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Transportation Commission Hears Fernside Update

At its Wednesday, January 24 meeting, the Transportation Commission reviewed and discussed a progress update on the Fernside Boulevard Traffic Safety & Bikeways Project. The project will create an updated roadway concept from Tilden Way to San Jose Avenue to reduce traffic speeds and emphasize safety and mobility for all road users.

Alameda Post - a diagram of Fernside with comments from community members like "Need a crosswalk"
The 1.3-mile segment of Fernside Boulevard under project study, along with key public feedback on safety concerns. Image Parametrix.

David Parisi of Parametrix—the consulting firm behind the Fernside project—summarized feedback received during the first round of public engagement in late 2023, which was aimed at gathering opinions on existing conditions along the corridor. The project team heard from over 700 people who attended the in-person community workshop on December 4 and the virtual workshop on December 11, or submitted responses to an online survey.

Alameda Post - people gathered around a map of Fernside Boulevard write notes on the trouble areas with sticky notes
Eighty-five community members attended the in-person workshop on December 4. Photo Ken Der.

According to Parisi, many commenters expressed frustration over drivers operating at high speeds, passing others illegally by using the center turn lane or bike lane, and failing to stop at stop signs. Others also found it challenging to cross Fernside on foot due to the lack of marked crosswalks—such as at Cambridge Drive or Fairview Avenue—and had concerns about bicyclist and pedestrian safety.



Alameda Post - a graphic of feedback speech bubbles including "Cars pass in the median" and "Protected bike lanes would be great
A sample of online survey responses with commonly expressed concerns about Fernside. Image Parametrix.

Both in-person and virtual respondents suggested a variety of improvements, including the addition of flashing beacons at existing crosswalks, new crosswalks, and protected bicycle lanes. Many also wondered whether increased traffic enforcement, speed humps, or other roadway interventions could help slow down traffic. Only about 5% of respondents believed that changes to Fernside were not necessary.

The Parametrix team fielded questions and input from the Commission. Commissioner Drew Dara-Abrams, who attended the December in-person workshop along with Commissioner Saravana Suthanthira, asked the team to incorporate vertical and horizontal deflections to address speeding concerns.

“Flashing beacons may have value but they’re already on the corridor. I think it would be very useful for the team in the next phase to look into options that really target just driver speed, specifically,” noted Dara-Abrams. He suggested narrowing traffic lanes by placing traffic posts or barriers on the centerlines, adding chicanes to divert the path of travel, raising intersections, or installing pedestrian hybrid beacons (PHBs or HAWKs).

Alameda Post - a HAWK system or Pedestrian hybrid beacon with flashing lights above the crosswalk
Pedestrian hybrid beacons (PHBs) are a type of traffic control device that help pedestrians cross high-speed roadways at midblock or uncontrolled intersections. Photo SLC.gov.

Commissioner Suthanthira agreed, but urged the project team to look into whether Fernside’s classification as a “Neighborhood Connector Street” restricts the types of improvements that can be implemented. She also asked Parametrix to explicitly acknowledge the unique characteristics of Fernside as a “gateway connector” that serves both the Fruitvale and High Street Bridges in reports and future deliverables.

Alameda Post - Fernside Boulevard
Fernside Boulevard. Photo Parametrix.

Commissioner Geoffrey Johnson emphasized that outreach efforts must be thorough and transparent. He also asked Parametrix to incorporate lessons learned from other Alameda projects. Commissioner Alysha Nachtigall agreed, noting that there have been recent projects, such as Otis Drive, that the City had to adjust post-implementation.

The project team will incorporate public feedback and Commission input to aid in the development of draft roadway concept plans in the next project phase. Another round of public engagement is anticipated in late spring.

Ken Der is a contributing writer for the Alameda Post. Contact him via [email protected]. His writing is collected at AlamedaPost.com/Ken-Der.

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