Memo #2 – Identification of Key Players and Interests
The issue of traffic congestion along the east bay corridor is being addressed by a number of institutions. The problem of traffic congestion crosses many jurisdictional boundaries – city, county, regional – and thus solutions to the problem must address the concerns of diverse governmental and political entities. Also, the scope of transportation improvement projects usually requires funding from a variety of sources, which further adds interests to the decision-making process. The issue of traffic management along the 880 corridor, specifically along Mission Blvd in Hayward, involves a number of government entities.
One of the primary agencies involved in many transportation projects is the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC). The MTC represents the nine counties of the Bay Area and is responsible for evaluating transportation problems, developing solutions to these problems, and seeking funding to carry out these solutions. While the MTC has primary jurisdiction in Bay Area transportation projects, it seeks input from a variety of other agencies including Caltrans, local county transportation agencies, and local city governments. The MTC oversees the regional aspects of Bay Area transportation: freeways and highways, major arterial streets, rapid transit, and other regional activities. In addition, effective in January of 1998 with the passage of Senate Bill 45, regional agencies such as the MTC now have much more power in allocating state funds to regional transportation projects. SB 45 allows 75% of state funds for transportation to be allocated by regional authorities such as the MTC (the remaining 25% are allocated by the California Transportation Commission -- the state agency). Because the issue of traffic along the Mission Blvd. corridor is a regional issue, the MTC is the primary agency in evaluating alternatives.
Along with the regional MTC, there are a number of local transportation groups that may come up with their own perspectives on transportation issues. Most counties, including Alameda county where the primary study area is located, have their own Congestion Management Agencies (CMAs) that deal with problems of congestion within their own local area. CMAs may come up with their own congestion forecasts and solutions to transportation issues, but they are much more of an advisory group and have little direct decision making power. The local CMAs act in an advisory role to the regional MTC. Specifically in Alameda county, there is an additional agency, the Alameda County Transportation Authority (ACTA) that is responsible for allocating funds generated by Measure B, a voter-approved county-wide gasoline tax used to fund transportation projects. The ATCA is responsible for the allocation of Measure B funds to various transportation projects. Because many alternatives to traffic congestion along the 238 corridor involve measure B funds, this agency must be involved (at least in an advisory sense) in the final decision. [Note: I’m not yet sure how the Alameda County CMA and the ACTA participate in the final decision making or how much power they have in it, because although the MTC makes final transit decisions, the ATCA is responsible for distributing the money. What would happen if the MTC and the ACTA didn’t agree?]
A third entity in improvements to the 238 corridor is Caltrans. In the past, Caltrans was responsible for all decisions regarding state highway building. However in recent years, and especially after SB 45, Caltrans has been further removed from regional transportation issues. Caltrans acts as an advisory body on transportation projects; it will conduct studies on various alternatives presented by other agencies and make recommendations on those alternatives, and will be responsible for actual construction of the final alternative if it involves changes or additions to the state highway network. State route 238 is indeed part of the state highway network, so it will be involved in studying alternatives presented by local and regional authorities, and will carry out the actual construction or improvements if they are approved.
The city of Hayward is also a major player in decisions regarding traffic along Mission Blvd., as much of the congestion occurs within the city limits. Also, the locality of Hayward will bear the brunt of any costs associated with the final alternative because any improvement will lie within the city. The city government is one vehicle by which local citizens affected by any final project can voice their opinion. Because of the effect on the city, the city addresses the concerns regarding 238 in its Circulation Element contained in the General Plan. Also, while previous entities dealt primarily with the regional issues surrounding traffic congestion in this area, the city of Hayward is much more concerned with local effects of traffic and any possible solutions. Thus, while the MTC may be more concerned with regional traffic patterns, the city is much more concerned with how this regional traffic effects the local traffic patterns of the city and the well-being of citizens living there.
In studying the issues surrounding traffic congestion on 238 and the overall 880 corridor, there are a number of divergent interests associated with the problem and alternatives. Obviously, the MTC is concerned with how traffic congestion along 238 affects the regional commute patterns and whether improvements to 238 can increase flow throughout the region. Mission Blvd. is used by many commuters to travel along the East Bay as an alternative to 880 to get to and from Oakland and San Jose and also to access the Dumbarton and San Mateo Bridges. Because the Nimitz Freeway is the only freeway to serve this corridor, MTC sees Mission Blvd as being an attractive alternative to the Nimitz. By improving the corridor along Mission through Hayward to 580, the MTC believes that traffic conditions can be improved.
Along with the regional interest of the MTC and commuters along 238, there are a number of local interests within the City of Hayward. Many residents of Hayward see traffic along Mission as being a severe division between the eastern and western portions of the city. They believe that regional traffic passing through Hayward to destinations outside the city limits are a major detriment to businesses and pose major inconveniences to residents making local trips within the city. In particular, they hope that by routing regional commuter traffic away from the downtown they can make it a more desirable place for residents to shop and promote a new, revitalized shopping and civic district. They also hope that by bypassing Mission Blvd. they can promote additional commercial activity along the boulevard. Finally, residents see the existing "commercial strip" development along Mission Blvd. as being a shabby, undesirable element of Hayward and blame the state highway and it’s regional traffic for perpetuating this type of development.
Besides the regional interests (manifested by the various transit agencies) and local interests (manifested by local city government) there are additional miscellaneous interests that are involved in any major transportation project such as proposals for the 238 corridor. These interests are represented by groups such as various environmental agencies and slow growth supporters that have an interest as to the environmental effects of alterations of the highway network and how increased road system capacity may lead to increased development. These groups may lobby for various alternatives, voice input in public comment periods, or attempt to block projects through lawsuits and other methods.
In addressing any large issues such as the transportation quality along the 880/Mission Blvd traffic corridor, there are a number of agencies and interests that compete for input into the final decision. Regional interests such as commute times and regional highway capacity must be addressed in tandem with local issues in the areas where the traffic passes through. Because of the large scope of the issue of 238 traffic, a number of agencies must come to agreement when investigating and attempting to solve any major transportation issue.