Q I am so afraid to drive on Highway 101 north of Highway 237 that I now take Middlefield Road every day. What were they thinking to close down the shoulders there? It is extremely dangerous. How soon will they replace some pullout areas for safety purposes?
And I'm curious: What does the CHP recommend in the event of a stall or a flat -- get out quick and dive over those concrete barriers? Highway 101 has enough problems without this nightmare. Does anyone else feel as I do?
A Oh, yes.
Q How many accidents have occurred along 101 and 85 due to the recent changes? It's been a nightmare traveling to San Antonio Road off 101. The shifted lanes create confusion and the onramp at Rengstorff Avenue is worse than before, if that's possible. Why are they doing all of this? ... Combine the lack of shoulders with extremely short merges, high speeds and poor sight lines (trying to look in your blind spot for traffic coming up on you while also trying to avoid running into the barrier as the lane shifts is exciting). There is zero margin for error. Can anything be done to give merging drivers a better chance of living through the construction work?
Chrichelle McCloud, J.L. and many more
A This is a difficult situation, as construction to add a second carpool lane in both directions in this area and new merging lanes between interchanges will continue into next summer. Before Labor Day, Caltrans plans to shift the construction barrier from east Embarcadero to north 101 about 3 feet to improve that short merge.
I don't have the accident data, but drivers need to be on the alert. As for what safety officials recommend when driving through this or any construction site: Slow down. If you have a flat or fender bender, drive to the next exit.
Q First off, so glad you are back. The universe feels right to have your column in the paper every day again.
A Feels right to me as well.
Q Is there a way to get Caltrans to post their work on the Web before starting? I got stuck on Highway 17 at Granite Creek for 20 minutes one morning last week, inching my way to the Santa's Village exit less than a mile away. I first heard about it when a caller let KCBS know of the backup, and KCBS called Caltrans to get the scoop. I am signed up with Sigalert, but this did not get to their attention until 11:30, when I got a text message. From what KCBS was relaying, it sounded like scheduled maintenance and easily could have been posted so travelers knew what was going to happen. This is not the first time this has happened this summer, but the backup in both directions was one of the worst. Please, Gary, help us!
A Go to www.dot.ca.gov/dist05/road_information.htm for information on Highways 1 or 17 in Santa Cruz County. It's updated every Friday for the following week. You can also dial 800-427-7623 for daily updates on all state roads. And at http://video.dot.ca.gov you can view highway conditions from cameras throughout California. A new camera has been set up on 17 at Laurel Curve.
Q In regard to the overhead messaging signs on Highway 1 and Highway 17 in Santa Cruz County, often the Scotts Valley sign will indicate a problem on 17 but the sign in Santa Cruz will not indicate a problem ahead. Why can't Caltrans use both signs so that drivers could stay home or use old San Jose Road as an alternative? By the time I see the sign in Scotts Valley, it's too late to turn back.
A There was a problem with the sign on Highway 1 north of 41st Avenue. Messages back to the command center would indicate the sign was working, but it would be blank. Equipment has been replaced and Caltrans says it will activate the sign when there is a problem on north 17.
Q I feel I'm the only one who has a gripe with the commute between Gilroy and South San Jose. It's been a nightmare lately. Am I the only one imagining this? I know it's always been a pain, but getting home takes way longer then it did last year. I really wish VTA would do something about the daily bottleneck in Morgan Hill. It's so ridiculous.
A There are long-range plans to extend the carpool lane on 101 from Morgan Hill to Gilroy and transform the section of 101 into a freeway from there to Highway 25. But that is many years away.