Q First of all, thank you for a most helpful column. Transportation issues are on the rise in Santa Cruz if not everywhere.

The construction along Highway 1 at Morrissey is a classic example of our motoring curse: drivers who divert their attention elsewhere. The daily back-ups seem tied to "lookie-loos." Could not Caltrans invest in portable screens that could be moved from construction site to construction site? This would more than make up for the loss of gasoline, accidents and frustration. See what you can do for all of us.

Thank you,

Ron & Linda Weaver, Santa Cruz

A First off, thank you and you're welcome.

Now, about those portable screens, "There has been some testing of these portable screens for traffic accidents in the U.K. but it is unclear their effectiveness," said Colin Jones, public affairs manager for Caltrans District 5. "I'm not aware of other state departments of transportation that are using them on a regular basis. In the case of large equipment like cranes on embankments and/or overpasses such as Highway 1 at La Fonda, it would not be practical to place portable barriers that are tall enough to screen the roadwork."

Jones added that contractors have the option to use so-called "gawk" screens on median barriers during construction, "but these often get damaged, becoming unsightly and difficult to maintain."


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Meanwhile, the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission, which oversees the $22.3 million project alongside Caltrans, suggests the slow-down is caused by other factors.

"We all understand Ron and Linda Weaver's frustration with decreased speeds in the construction zone," said Karena Pushnik, senior transportation planner and spokesperson. "However, some of the slow-down is because the lanes have been narrowed for construction purposes, which makes people drive slower, speed limits are actually reduced from 65 to 55 mph and that traffic fines are doubled in construction zones."

Unaware of portable screen products, Pushnik said, "if there was one, we'd need to determine whether it was a priority for scarce transportation funds. If, in the future, these products become widely used, we'd consider them for local projects."

Keep tabs on and learn more about the project at http://sccrtc.org/projects/streets-highways/highway-1-aux-lanes/.

People living in motor homes on rental properties A reader wrote in to Street Smarts seeking information about the legality of people living for extended amounts of time in motor homes in the driveways and backyard of rental properties.

This issue is for code enforcement to decide.

Here is how to contact the code enforcement office in your area for questionable living situations happening on private property:

Santa Cruz: http://www.cityofsantacruz.com/index.aspx?page=345.

Watsonville: http://cityofwatsonville.org/permits-plans/building-division/code-enforcement-complaints.

Capitola: http://www.ci.capitola.ca.us/capcity.nsf/ComDevZCode.html; 831-475-7300.

Scotts Valley: http://www.scottsvalley.org/building/building.html.

Santa Cruz County: http://www.sccoplanning.com/PlanningHome/CodeCompliance.aspx.

Street Smarts appears Mondays and Thursdays. New topics are posted weekdays on the blog, at www.santacruzlive.com/blogs/streetsmarts. Follow it also on Twitter and Facebook. Submit questions to those aforementioned social media sites or to streetsmarts@santacruzsentinel.com. Include your name, city of residence and a phone number where you can be reached.