Q Do you know why the shoulders of Interstate 580 between Livermore and Dublin are closed in both directions? It makes driving dangerous on this road.
A You ask, I find out. Caltrans is preparing for several projects on this stretch of 580.
Crews will be adding a westbound carpool and express lane from Greenville Road to the Foothill/San Ramon interchange.
On eastbound 580, the state will add auxiliary lanes between Isabel Road and the North Livermore interchange, and between North Livermore and the First Street interchange. And on east 580, the long-awaited truck climbing lane from Greenville to just east of North Flynn will be completed.
There will be headaches for a couple of years, but this pavement is badly needed.
Q While driving on (the) I-215 recently from Riverside to Barstow, a woman was driving slowly on the right-hand shoulder with her hazard lights on. As we passed her, I saw that she was talking on her cellphone. I don't think there was any kind of trouble, since she then pulled into the right-hand lane of the freeway, turned off her hazard lights, and resumed freeway speed -- only to find out that the right-hand shoulder suddenly narrowed because of a short freeway bridge!
A Alas, some cellphone abusers think turning on their emergency lights and driving on the shoulder is a way to be safe. Folks, unless you're having a car problem or some other emergency, it's illegal to stop (or drive) on the shoulder to make a cellphone call.
Q I commute weekly to Sacramento via Interstate 680 and have a question about the new truck scales in Cordelia on the eastbound side. I understand the need for moving them since the current location right off the merge of 680 with 80 can cause some traffic issues, but I don't see why millions need to be spent to move the scales a mere 500 yards away. This cannot possibly make much difference in traffic patterns!
A Check back with me in a few days, as changes will be ready later this week and an early assessment can be made. Caltrans believes you should see a noticeable improvement in traffic flow as trucks exit and re-enter I-80 and Highway 12 more safely. The existing scales and entry and exit points were built in the 1950s and were sorely outdated.
More that 10,000 big rigs trucks pass along I-80 in this area every day, and the truck scales cannot handle this amount of traffic. The merging points are so close together that truck traffic often backs up, forcing the CHP to close the scales.
Go to www.dot.ca.gov/dist4/80ebcordelia for more information.
Q Can you find out when BART plans on opening the Richmond parking garage? After almost two years it appears complete, yet station agents are vague on its opening.
A The Richmond garage is scheduled to open in late May. Weather delays have slowed work on the $34.5 million project.
Q As you go south on Highway 17, there is a large sign for the turnoff to Route 85. Immediately after the first turnoff, there is a sign indicating directions on Route 85 (Gilroy vs. Mountain View).
Some months ago, vandals obscured the second sign. Shortly thereafter, Caltrans apparently repainted the sign and, during daylight hours, it is fine.
Unfortunately, they did not restore the reflective paint and reflectors, so the sign remains almost illegible at night. This is dangerous, as the unwary driver is suddenly confronted with a fork and a choice without good information. Are they going to fix this?
A Yes, but not anytime soon. Caltrans cleaned the signed a couple of months ago but the reflective material came off and the sign needs to be replaced. The problem is it takes several months (sometimes a couple of years) to replace signs.
Q There's an end to the carpool lane southbound on Interstate 880 before Montague Expressway. There used to be a sign indicating "Carpool lane ends 1/2 mile" and then "Carpool lane ends." Both signs are gone. Not that it really matters to most people, as they simply enter the carpool lane miles before it ends anyway. But for those of us who obey the law, do they plan to replace those signs?
Q Look for new signs when the widening from Highway 237 to 101 ends in a few weeks, with carpool lanes in both directions.
Q Please! Please! Mr. Richards, will you please tell me why you and the public insist on calling the Martinez/Benicia Bridge just the "Benicia Bridge"? In 1962 the bridge was dedicated as the Martinez/Benicia Bridge because the bridge replaced the Martinez/Benicia Ferry. Neither you nor others call the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge just the "San Rafael Bridge," which replaced the Richmond/San Rafael Ferry. Please give me an answer if you can.
A It saves my aching fingers a few strokes on the keyboard. And I know when I refer to it as the Benicia Bridge, you will fire me off an email, and I like hearing from you. Truly I do.