Union City Politicians Determined to Let a Highway Scar Their City

BATWG Newsletter Issue No. 30

This letter was sent to ACTC Chair Pauline Cutter on November 16, 2020. 

Dear ACTC Commissioners:

Union City Harkins Back to 1958

The East West Connector (EWC) project (now called the nicer-sounding “Quarry Lakes Parkway”) has a long history dating back to 1958. This project never did catch on, at Caltrans or anywhere else and makes less sense now than ever, except to Union City’s local pols. As of a few months ago the capital cost of project had rocketed to $362 million including $74 million in City-owned land being donated as a site for the highway.

Despite the fact that highway building in urbanized areas has been essentially out of favor for a half a century, Union City’s government is determined to raze a historic 1888 landmark and obliterate the site of an attractive extension of the Quarry Lakes Recreational Area along Alameda Creek so it can run its 2-mile highway right to the front door of Union City’s much-heralded “transit-oriented” housing development north of the BART station.

Read more here:

In 2018, the EWC project made headlines because Union City had worked a deal with the ACTC to redirect Alameda County Measure BB Intermodal Station funding into its roadway. See:  Union City may divert $75 million in public transit funds for new, $320 million road. This caused a big uproar and many of us strongly opposed the action. ACTC appropriately decided that Union City should first conduct a new traffic study to replace the old one completed in 2008. Since the EWC was destined to dump more traffic onto the already crowded Paseo Padre Parkway, then on the even more-congested Decoto Road and finally onto the often completely gridlocked Dumbarton Highway Bridge, it was generally expected that the updated traffic figures would reveal the EWC as not very useful, destructive to nearby Union City thoroughfares and way overpriced. However, to avoid having to flush its ill-conceived pet project down the drain, Union City’s government produced only the most superficial of updates. The new statement was virtually devoid of information not already shown in the 2008 report. What little there was included a table showing that, in part because of the popular hi-tech shuttle services, traffic in the area had remained essentially flat between 2005 and 2019. With BART’s long awaited extension into downtown San Jose now underway, there is even less reason now than there was two years ago for new highways in Union City. As might be expected the Union City traffic update made no mention of the pending BART connection to Silicon Valley.

Everyone agrees that much needs to be done to rectify the Bay Area’s burgeoning traffic congestion problems. This can only be accomplished if the mutual political back-scratching that currently passes for transportation planning in this region is replaced by a careful process assuring that all proposed local, county and regional projects are the result of careful, objective analysis and sound engineering. There are much better things to do with $112 million than to prime the pump for Union City’s backward-looking highway to nowhere. We ask that you take a cold hard look at the East West Connector before releasing precious Alameda County sales tax money to Union City’s highway-oriented government.


Gerald Cauthen P.E.,
for the Bay Area Transportation Working Group
510 208 5441

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