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February 14, 2012 > Letter to the Editor: Vargas Plateau

Letter to the Editor: Vargas Plateau

Submitted By G.B. Johnson, with additional submissions by Susan R. Gearhart

Safe access to the East bay Regional Park (EBRP) on the Vargas Plateau is a long time goal of the community. "The City [of Fremont] has not found that the proposed plans provide adequate roadway clearance for park visitor traffic to mitigate potential geometrical hazards of the existing sub-standard road with its existing driveways cuts, steep grade, lane width, and blind spots," writes Kelly Diekmann, City of Fremont Senior Planner, in a letter to Brian Wiese, EBRP. The warning has been issued. Carol Severin and Ayn Wieskamp, representatives of the EBRP, stated in a newspaper article on May 7, 2010 that, "safety of the public and neighbors adjacent to the open space is the most important aspect to our management of any park facility." The opening of the park is eminent.

Susan R. Gearhart writes about her frustrations navigating Vargas and Morrison Canyon Road. She states: "We need a sign at Vargas and MCR, which presently says 'Not a Through Street,' but also states, as I've seen down on other roads, 'Person Driving Downhill Must Back Up.' Perhaps the police and citizens will have a better understanding of what is precisely legal according to the DMV. I was so frustrated to just get home and be safe. There is absolutely no safe way we can approach from Highway 680 via Vargas Road to make our private driveway to our home. Morrison Canyon Road is not an option for our homes; it is our only way home. Fremont should protect their prior legally approved access to our property... It could be life saving if everyone knew the law."

When the National Transportation Safety Board does an accident investigation, the major causes of an accident are usually attributed to human error. Contributing causes may be excessive speed, wet pavement, or poor engineering. Most accidents that are attributed to poor engineering needlessly leave humans as victims. Cost overruns, back room politics, and "loss of face" are often the reasons stated for not correcting known engineering defects. It is sad, but true: some accidents may be avoided; those are the accidents caused by poor engineering.

With easy access to the park from the City improved and safe roads in the lowlands, I certainly hope that the city of Fremont and EBRP take advantage of their good fortune. I hope they do not create a "make work" project for lawyers, litigating poor engineering, as they are held culpable in the deaths caused by a "killer park."

G.B. Johnson

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