Q I recently drove on Interstate 880 south through Oakland, and in the perpetual construction area there is a new structure across the highway with what look like traffic signals. This is weird. Are they putting metering lights in the middle of the freeway?
A Yep, but it is not what it appears. Once the 580 widening is done, the freeway lanes will be shifted to the left and these meters will line up with the Oak Street onramp and not the freeway. This is a temporary condition.
Q Why are express or toll lanes in Southern California set off by double yellow lines, while in the Bay Area double white lines are used on I-680 and the 237-880 interchange?
A The original state legislation allowed double yellow lines, but federal law has been changed so double white lane lines are now the national standard. Eventually the striping on Southern California lanes will be changed from yellow to white.
Q I keep reading about the Valley Transportation Authority changing carpool lanes into toll lanes. Many of these carpool lanes are already at capacity during the heart of the commute. Is VTA going to change to a three-person carpool rule in order to open up capacity for revenue generation?
A No plans anytime soon, but in time this could happen on more Bay Area freeways. Three people are required for a carpool on I-80 before the Bay Bridge and on 680 to the Benicia Bridge, for example.
Q I commute from the Peninsula to the East Bay and regularly take Highway 92 east to Interstate 880 north. But after years of construction, the 92/880 merge has not improved. The backup is still at least a mile long. Even with a carpool it takes quite a while to get to 880. Are there plans to resolve this?
A There is nothing in the works. What you face now will be the situation for years to come. There's just too much traffic on 880 to speed things up.
Q Has anyone said what will be different about the "new" toll collection equipment they are installing on the San Mateo Bridge?
A It's mostly just updated computer systems to improve reliability. The old system dates to 1998. The biggest change for motorists is that display will now read "valid FasTrak" instead of "valid ETC" (Electronic Toll Collection).
Look for periodic delays at the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge toll plaza beginning Friday night and for the next two weeks to install a new automated toll collection and accounting system. Similar work will be done on the Dumbarton Bridge and the Bay Bridge over the next few months.
Q Here's a candidate for your texting horror story of the day:
I was in tourist and rush-hour traffic on southbound Highway 1 toward Monterey and in a line of cars that would speed up and then dramatically slow down. I just figured it was due to the volume of traffic, until I noticed that cars were pulling out of the left lane and passing a car ahead in the right lane that was the cause of the speeding up and slowing down. As I, too, passed the driver, I saw that both he and his passenger were texting -- probably to each other (insert eye roll here!).
A With texters, anything stupid is possible.
Q At the southbound Interstate 680 exit to westbound I-580, there is one exit indicator arrow for the right lane only, while there are two exit lanes. This causes cars and trucks to abruptly move from the left exit lane to the right exit lane, as it appears this is a one-lane exit. I drive this at least once a day and have had to brake hard to avoid a collision from a panicked, swerving vehicle or an 18-wheeler that thinks it's going to miss the exit.
Can someone please rummage in the paint shop for a second exit arrow?
A The existing south 680 ramp to west 580 was originally a two-lane ramp. At that time the right lane on 680 was required to exit, and drivers in the next lane had the option of exiting or remaining on 680.
Several years ago, ramp meters were installed and the striping and signing was changed to convert the ramp to a single-lane exit. Now, only the right lane exits, but once you are on the ramp, it widens to two lanes.
This has raised questions from several drivers and Caltrans has decided to again make it a two-lane exit, with the left lane being limited to carpoolers. I'm not sure when this will be done, but when it is more signs will be posted to end the confusion you now endure.
Q We drive Oak Grove and Meadow Lane every day. These have to be the worst roads in Concord. I have called the Public Works Department but all I get is voice mail saying to leave a message. When will these roads be repaired? Maybe you can get an answer.
A Afraid not. The town is putting together its list of streets to pave this coming year, but it hasn't been finalized yet.
Q Between 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m., a tremendous amount of cars are traveling east on Naglee Avenue, from Bascom Avenue toward the Rose Garden area in San Jose. For those traveling west on Naglee during this time, and wishing to turn left onto Dana Avenue, it is very difficult. This intersection badly needs a left-turn signal for those wishing to turn onto Dana. Whatever you can do would be awesome.
A Unfortunately, there's not much that can be done. There is not enough room on Naglee to handle left-turn pockets without removing 250 to 300 feet of parking approaching from both directions.