Q I know you've written about the construction that's beginning again on Interstate 580 in Livermore, Dublin, and Pleasanton, but there seems to be much more going on than just the addition of a westbound carpool lane. Almost every exit has shoulders closed and it looks like some ramps are being expanded. Please tell me if this is true. ... What's going on with the re-striping of the eastbound I-580 lanes between Hacienda and Airway Boulevard? Lanes shift to the left, shift to the right, and then to the left again in a zigzag pattern that makes no sense and becomes dangerous when big trucks don't stay in their lanes. I don't think my Prius can handle getting sideswiped by a stray big rig that can't stay in its lane with all the zigzags. ... When is this work going to be completed?
Jim Sean, Jim Gleeson, Sam Jason and more
A There are several projects underway in both directions that will continue for some time -- converting the eastbound carpool lane into an express lane, adding a new carpool-express lane westbound and adding auxiliary lanes at several segments in both directions. This is the reason for all the zigzags that are worrying my Prius buddy.
Crews will also be strengthening the pavement in the median and on the outsides, constructing median barriers and installing electrical conduits for the electronic message signs. This also requires shifting lanes.
Work could last until the end of 2015, so Caltrans pleads with drivers to slow down and be patient.
Q While the South Bay built new freeways using tax dollars, the East Bay, where I live, has mostly only widened existing freeways. Hayward killed the Foothill Freeway, there is no southern crossing bridge from the west bay and we have not upgraded roads like Highway 84 and Vasco Road to freeways. Thank God we have BART.
If I could dream, I would improve AC Transit and the County Connection with streetcar lines; push out BART to Antioch (as the freeway gets extended) and Martinez; extend Highway 238 to the San Mateo Bridge; build the Foothill Freeway through the Mission Boulevard corridor to 680; build yet another tunnel for the Caldecott for carpools; give Alameda a new tube that connects to 880; and finally, build a new freeway from San Jose to the Central Valley.
Of course none of these things will happen given the costs and political will.
A Here's a chance to voice your dreams. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission is looking for 27 people to sit on its Policy Advisory Council to advise the agency on transportation policies in the Bay Area. The deadline to apply is Friday. No specific background is needed for most seats, just an interest in transportation and how it affects residents in Santa Clara, San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa and the other five Bay Area counties. To apply or to learn more about the policy advisory council, go to www.mtc.ca.gov/get_involved/advisory, call 510-817-5757 or visit the MTC offices at 101 Eighth St. in Oakland.
Q I've driven to the Oakland airport twice in the last two months and it appears nothing's happening there to the BART airport connector. No trucks, no cranes, no activity of any kind. Did they just quit, or what? It's half-built and looks abandoned.
A It's not. BART says over 100 workers are toiling away each day, some at night. The job is about two-thirds complete and construction should wrap up at the end of the year. Then, after testing, train service could begin late next year.
Crews have been installing architectural, mechanical, electrical and plumbing items at the two stations for the past several months. A large portion of this occurs inside the stations, and it's hard to see from the road. By the end of the month, the system's steel guideway across I-880 and three ramps at Hegenberger Road will be done.
To keep tabs on the work, go to www.bart.gov/oac or call 510-464-6463.
Q I was driving on Highway 101 within the Palo Alto city limits when I was pulled over by Mountain View police on the San Antonio Road eastbound offramp, also within the Palo Alto city limits. He wrote me a citation for illegal cellphone use. Since the Mountain View officer was out of his jurisdiction, is this citation invalid?
A Pay up, Jacob. A city cop can write a ticket on any public road, whether it is in his city or not, and on a state highway. The CHP can also issue tickets on city streets and county expressways. BART police have even been known to ticket carpool cheats on 101.
Q I am a regular Caltrain commuter and I am finding out that the trains are becoming ever more unreliable. Last week a morning Baby Bullet quit in Palo Alto and left over 100 hundred commuters stranded. This is not the first Bullet I have been on in the last six months that quit. Does Caltrain have the cash to maintain their equipment? Are they saving their money in anticipation of electrifying in six years?
I much prefer the train to driving round-trip to Millbrae. Is there hope for a more reliable system?
A I'm worried for you. Caltrain's equipment is aging and needs replacing, but the transit agency lacks the operating funds to modernize the system at a time ridership is at an all-time high. Said Christine-the-Caltrain-Spokesperson:
"First, we apologize to customers who have been delayed by equipment breakdowns and failures. ... We know we are frustrating our riders and we are deeply sorry. We make no excuses and only one promise -- we will work hard to do better.
"Caltrain is operating aging equipment that is near the end of its useful life. Converting our current diesel-powered operation to electric power is the cornerstone of the Caltrain Modernization Program. Caltrain is planning to begin operating electric trains by 2019. In the meantime, we must make do with the equipment we have and we must do better."
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