February 20, 2008 > Hayward mini-loop
By Joe O. Ramos
There is a story that during the depression era in the 1930s, a lobbyist came to speak to President Franklin D. Roosevelt about starting a Public Works Project that would put millions of union workers, carpenters, plumbers, and painters back on the employment line. Roosevelt was told that this would help the country by stimulating the economy and putting skilled workers back to work. His response to the lobbyist was, "Who is selling the bricks?" In other words, who was going to make money on this deal?
Some of the people in Hayward are also wondering about the Hayward Route 238 Corridor Improvement Project, or mini-loop; who is selling the bricks?
The mini- loop is a venture of the City of Hayward, changing "A" Street from a two-way to a one-way street. "A" Street will travel west from Foothill to Mission Boulevard. "B," "C," and "D" streets, will go east with Foothill northbound and Mission Boulevard going south forming a mini-loop.
According to Robert Bauman, Director of the City of Hayward's Public Works, the mini-loop project was approved by a council vote of 4-3. At a work session on Oct. 23, 2007, the Route 238 Corridor Improvement Project Final Environmental Impact Report, Exhibit A, stated, "One of the most critical objectives was that the project remain eligible for Measure B funding, since without this funding the project could not be completed."
According to the letter from the Director of Public Works Office, "The original cost projection was $138 million. However, it has been reduced to $111million." Of that amount, "$80 million is from Measure B funds and another $11 million from the City of Hayward." That includes, "a shortfall of $20 million."
Many people in the downtown Hayward area are opposed to the idea of the mini-loop. Business owners on "B" Street said they feel this project will adversely affect their businesses. Joe Oakman, a business owner on "B" Street, said "Of course this will affect my business. Who is going to want to stop and shop? People driving will just want to go from point A to point B." Oakman added, "Look down Foothill it is turning into a ghost town."
Oakman said that the mini-loop was happening because, "The state said 'You don't want a freeway, we will take that money somewhere else' and the city told one of their engineers to come up with a plan, but they never consulted the business owners on our desires."
Many Hayward residents wrote letters of protest to the City of Hayward to no avail. One of them, Alice Nguyen, owner of the Vietnamese restaurant Le Paradis, was told by the City of Hayward that they want to use 10 feet of her property, including her patio area, to widen "D" Street. But not every business is opposed to the idea of the new loop project. Buffalo Bill's Brewery is hoping that by re-routing the traffic, new customers will be attracted to their establishment. Meggan Stringent, the manager of Buffalo Bill's said, "I am only concerned with the parking situation and how it will affect our establishment." But with the re-routing of traffic, she hopes to gather new customers who will drive by, see Buffalo Bill's Brewery and stop by to see what it is all about.