Q When, oh when, will there be a carpool lane on Interstate 580 west between the Altamont and 680? Traffic feels like it's doubled again and is making life for us commuting from the valley about as horrible as it can get.
Katie Williams, Ilkka Suoniemi and many more
A You'll soon begin to see trucks moving dirt, possibly in April, to build a westbound carpool lane. The first segment will run from Greenville Road to Isabel Avenue and then from Isabel to Foothill Road, with work lasting until late next year.
Then crews will begin converting the carpool lane into an express or toll lane for the 13-mile stretch. That could be completed by late 2015.
Go to www.alamedactc.org for more information.
Q I travel daily on north Interstate 680 in central Contra Costa County, and the slowdown at the Treat Boulevard exit is what I would like to address. The brake lights begin about 3 to 4 p.m. and slow everything on both 680 and Highway 24.
Alas, the daily backup is only going to get worse as the economy ticks up. Can we kindly ask that some attention be paid to remedies for this area, perhaps metering traffic entering from North Main, re-striping the right lanes from further south in Walnut Creek so that through traffic stays out of the far right lanes, more signage for through traffic to stay left, etc.?
Ann Rekoske Orso
A Susan-the-Traffic-Lady experiences this traffic backup all the time and she says your suggested improvements for more signs and paint are good, cost-effective solutions. So I kicked them up to Caltrans, and let's see what happens.
The biggest hope is the installation of metering lights, but cities along 680 haven't yet given their support to installing onramp signals. Until that happens, changing lane striping and adding some signs will have minimal impact.
Q OK, last Saturday we had a fairly big event at Candlestick with the 49ers game, and BART decides to do what? Track maintenance, when there will be thousands of extra people taking BART to and from the game. Brilliant!
Plus their website only had an advisory about a 15-minute delay near Lafayette due to track maintenance. No mention of only one Transbay Tube running after the game.
The result: long delays, trains going the wrong direction and signboards with the wrong destinations. I know this might have been planned long before the 49ers knew they would be hosting a playoff game at Candlestick, but didn't anyone at BART consider postponing the work due to the need to transport thousands of riders across the bay?
I won't even mention the lines waiting for the Muni buses at the park and how mismanaged the lines were leading to three separate lines feeding into one bus stop. Oh, I did mention it.
A BART officials said the track replacement work in the Transbay Tube had to take place last weekend. It was originally scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. but because of the 49ers game was moved back to 10 p.m. Crews were out all night and the following day to get work done before the Monday commute.
A spokesman for BART says it posted a warning of the closure on the front page of its website Jan. 7 and also warned its email subscribers. BART also posted the notice on social media (@SFBART and @SFBARTalert) and alerted the media. Passenger bulletins were distributed at West Oakland and the downtown San Francisco stations the week prior, and this information also ran at its stations on the platform during the days leading up to the work.
Q Thanks so much for your good work once again. On Tuesday they reopened the No. 4 closed tollbooth and the backup on the Dumbarton Bridge before the toll plaza was nonexistent.
Interestingly, though, this experience provided an interesting science experiment as to the effectiveness of metering of traffic. The closed lane effectively served as a meter to traffic flowing onto the bridge, and traffic flowed smoothly all the way to Menlo Park. With the toll plaza fully opened, a backup built on the high-rise section of the bridge. My feeling was that Tuesday morning's backup on the bridge was less significant than the prior backup was on Highway 84, so a fully opened toll plaza is preferable, but I will never again doubt your support of freeway metering lights.
A Another day, another convert.
Q Traffic on my routes to work -- Highway 17 to 101 to Trimble Road or 17 to 280 -- gets suddenly much worse when the metering lights go off at 9 a.m. With the valley's economy improving (yay) and more staggered work start times, wouldn't it make sense to extend the metering lights until 9:30? Please would you ask the powers that be?
A I asked and you could get your wish. Caltrans metering folks will look into this next week and will extend the metering hours along these corridors if needed. Typically the state meters the morning commute from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., but it has started metering a few highways past 9 a.m., including northbound Highway 87 and westbound 237. And the meters on 101 in San Mateo County often run until 10 a.m.
Q This was a first for me recently when I drove down McLaughlin Avenue in San Jose and saw a young man with a spray can of paint writing on a utility box. It was around 3 p.m. in broad daylight. When I stopped the car, I telephoned 511 to report the incident. Evidently that was not the number to call for reporting graffiti because the menu did not mention it. What is the number? I want to put it in my phone so I can report it if I see it again.
A You can call 866-249-0543, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or download the app San Jose Clean. And you can also call 311 to reach police. The 511 service is for traffic and transit information.
Q Tuesday morning while walking with our son to school, we paused while one of our neighbors backed his car out of a long driveway. Other than one open rear window, all windows and the front and rear windshield were obscured by frost and condensation. The driver would not have been able to see out his rear windshield and his forward and side views would have been severely handicapped. There was no way this guy could have seen us, or any bicyclists, or even the construction workers getting to their site down the street. You would think a Stanford graduate student would know better!
Could you please give a shout out to your readers to please take a few minutes to scrape or defrost their windows? If they don't own a scraper, use a credit card to clear the ice.
A Shout issued.
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