Will Fresno require Hwy 99/Herndon Power Center to build Herndon railroad undercrossing?

The potential impact of any given development project on an area’s existing traffic congestion depends on many factors. Let’s say a nonprofit is building a 10-acre nature education center like an Aquarium that won’t open to the general public until 10 a.m. and will close at 6 p.m. – it stands to reason that such a project’s impacts on rush hour traffic would be minimal.

El Paseo Shopping Center MapHowever, when a 238-acre mega-sized shopping center, with possible big box tenants like a Super Target, Toys R Us and other national retailers attracting thousands of shoppers each day, is proposed to share the same severely under-built freeway interchange, poorly configured adjacent city intersection and Union Pacific Railroad mainline at-grade crossing, most thinking motorists realize that this less-than-perfect configuration will become even more of a traffic nightmare than it is already unless it is completely redesigned.

Yet, the El Paseo Shopping Center’s Draft Environmental Impact Report (page 415) states “The final design for improvements to the Golden State Boulevard/Herndon Avenue intersection (including street widening, lane addition, and traffic signal modifications) is complete, and construction of these improvements is anticipated to start in Spring 2010. A grade-separation project (Herndon Avenue underpass at the UPRR tracks) just east of Golden State Boulevard is also identified. The timing for this improvement is uncertain.”

Of course it’s uncertain. As of now, it doesn’t appear the Shopping Center developer will be required by the City of Fresno to build the underpass. Instead, its impact fees could be applied to other projects other than the improvements so desperately needed at the Herndon/99/UPRR complex. Click here to read the Aquarium’s June 15 comment letter to the City.

If you have any comments, there is only a short window of opportunity to submit them in writing to the City. Please be respectful, but firm, when expressing how you feel. Here is the staff planner’s contact information:

Mike Sanchez at (559) 621-8040 or via e-mail at

City Councilmember Andreas Borgeas: (559) 621-7820  Email