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Using Big Data to Combat Congestion from Cut-Through Traffic in Fremont, California

Fremont, CA

Congestion in Fremont is on the rise, and apps like Waze and Google Maps are creating severe traffic jams on neighborhood roads. The city used Big Data analytics to diagnose the cause of congestion, measure the performance of mitigation tactics, and engage with the public about the efforts to stop it.

Topics Covered

Pedestrian & Bicycle Safety
Mobility & Access


Initial: 25 Thousand USD


General Fund/Existing Public Funds

Project Status

Operational since 2017

Gov Champion

Public Works

Problem Addressed

Housing in the San Francisco Bay Area has not kept pace with the job growth, and Fremont lies between areas with affordable housing and employers in Silicon Valley.

With the rise of GPS apps, commuters began driving through Fremont to bypass highway congestion. This caused severe jams on local roads. The City implemented turn restrictions and ramp meters to prevent “cut-through trips.” However, this resulted in long queues to highway on-ramps. Residents were concerned the tactics were worsening the problem. The city needed empirical data to prove their polices worked. With StreetLight InSight, they confirmed the cause of congestion and conducted a “before-and- after” study. The results were that 26% more trips stayed on the highway in peak hours and traffic on local roads decreased by 33% on average after the measures were implemented. With real-world data, the city’s engineers engaged city council and the public more effectively and gained public support. The performance analysis will also help the city prioritize future investments.

Solutions Used

No other tool could provide real-world data that quantified the volume and duration of cut-through trips.

With StreetLight InSight, the city could also “go back in time” to study past commute patterns. Ultimately, the city ran more than 35 different analyses for one fixed fee. They gathered the data quickly online and did not have to send staff into harm’s way on roadsides for complex sensor deployments. The data-driven analysis helped key stakeholders realize that the pros of the turn restrictions and highway ramp meters outweighed the cons. Congestion in Fremont remains an issue: Its location at the crossroads of major employment centers and affordable housing virtually guarantees it, so the city will continue pursuing more congestion mitigation projects. This performance analysis will help the city to conduct future cost-benefit studies and better prioritize future projects.



Helped the city identify strategies to reduce commuter traffic through neighborhoods by implementing turn restrictions and working with partners to eliminate navigation cut-through routes.


Identified "hot spot" issues so the city could respond and better prioritize future congestion mitigation projects.

Something Unique

Received a lot of media attention - google "Fremont traffic crisis"

Who Should Consider

Any city could employ a similar approach to diagnose the cause of congestion and evaluate the performance of mitigation tactics.

Last Updated

Aug 10th, 2018
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