Fremont, Calif., at the southeast end of the San Francisco Bay, is at the junction of multiple freight and passenger rail lines, which have contributed to significant traffic delays as the city has grown to more than 210,000 residents. For the past 40 years, city officials have been working to eliminate the delays and safety hazards caused by rail operating over local roads. Finally, last year, Fremont celebrated the completion of a grade separation project to facilitate movement of trains and cars through the city, the largest public works project in the city's history.

The most acute traffic problems were along Fremont's busiest arterials, Washington Boulevard and Paseo Padre Parkway. In addition, the trains were required to blow their horns at six at-grade crossings within one mile of each other, causing noise all day and night. Increasing the need to grade separate the crossings were plans to extend Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) lines to southern Fremont and south to San Jose.

After years of studies and public workshops, the city determined Paseo Padre Parkway would be depressed under the railroad, and Washington Boulevard would be elevated over the railroad. Major construction began in 2007, led by a joint venture of DeSilva Gates — Brosamer. The project involved numerous agencies and property owners, including the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR), Alameda County, Alameda County Water District, San Francisco Public Utility Commission (SFPUC), and BART.

Funding for the $111 million project came from 10 sources, including Fremont redevelopment funds, Alameda County sales taxes, the State Transportation Improvement Program, the Congestion Management Agency, BART State Traffic Congestion Relief, Regional Measure 2, and a State Grade Separation Grant.

In the end, six at-grade railroad crossings were eliminated, resulting in improved traffic circulation with reduced noise; improved pedestrian/bicycle connectivity; a planned future BART Irvington Station site; and added landscaping beautification throughout.

Project: Rail/road grade separation
Jurisdiction: Fremont, Calif.
Lead agency: Transportation Engineering Division
Lead engineer: San Francisco-based URS Corp.
Date completed: May 2010
Cost: $111 million