Q If we assume that everyone gets an electric car and no one buys gas, how will we pay for the roads they drive on?
A That is the BIG question traffic planners across the country are asking. Tom's comments floated in after the story last week on the 3.5-cent-a-gallon tax hike in California, which means we now have the highest gas tax of the 50 states at nearly 72 cents a gallon. And it's bound to go higher. The state Board of Equalization can raise the state excise tax if it expects gas tax revenues to decline. That's almost a sure bet as cars get better mileage and more hybrids and electric cars are on the road.
More than a dozen states are considering charging all drivers by their mileage to make up the lost revenue. Santa Clara County a few years ago raised the vehicle registration fee by $10 for the same reason, and the state is considering a bill to allow fees to be imposed on electric-vehicle charging stations.
Sales of electric and hybrid cars have soared over the past decade. Last year, Toyota sold 236,659 Prius hybrids, a 73 percent increase from 2011. And General Motors doubled its sale of hybrids last year.
Q I have read motorcyclist complaints about cars three times this week and I am getting sick of these shortsighted accusations. Why must motorcyclists always conclude that those driving cars are inconsiderate and rude?
I am a very vigilant driver who looks both ways at all intersections on the off chance that someone might run a stop sign or a light. I do a thorough check before changing lanes. Yet, 9 out of 10 times, even I simply cannot see a motorcycle coming until it's already beside me!
Things get complicated even more by all of the buses, trucks, vans and SUVs that make it even more difficult to see motorcyclists, not to mention the soundproofing of car interiors these days. The earliest I hear or see a motorcycle coming is at about my back door -- and not for lack of looking! I truly have no idea you're coming until you're already present. And again, I am vigilant.
It seems motorcyclists are failing to give drivers enough time to see them coming! It is your job to make sure that people know you're there while you are well behind them. If you cannot do that, then please do not ride a motorcycle.
A Folks, let's give this a rest, OK? Drivers need to be vigilant, as Lisa says she is, and motorcyclists need to slow down and split lanes only at moderate speeds.
Q A letter to Caltrans:
A Uh-oh. That usually means it's not a thank-you note.
Q Many people commute over the hill on Highway 17 from Santa Cruz into San Jose for the night shift, even on weekends. This is my commute. I live in Santa Cruz and work as a nurse at a hospital in San Jose and was scheduled to work in the ICU last Sunday night.
I left early due to beach traffic. I checked my phone first to see how traffic was looking. Looked clear. I got to Scotts Valley at 10 p.m. and traffic was STOPPED clear up to the Glenwood cutoff due to Caltrans work. This cost me money at work.
Why would Caltrans start a project during beach traffic which happens every weekend in the summer evenings? Can Caltrans start one hour later so as to not hold up night-shift commuters coming over the hill? People were honking and yelling, and road rage was bad. You guys need to think about other people. Use some common sense. This was not necessary.
A Caltrans is not allowed to start road work on northbound 17 until 10 p.m. on Sundays during the summer. That's an hour later than the usual 9 p.m. non-summer hours start, but work can't be delayed until 11 p.m. or later or crews may not be off the road before the start of the Monday morning commute.
This is going to be a pain for quite a spell. The state is building retaining walls, upgrading guardrails and adding a crash cushion on a 6-mile section of 17 from Santa's Village Road to the Santa Clara County line. This work could be going on night and day with alternating lane closures in both directions and will last until the fall of 2014.
Q They did some repaving on Hedding Street in San Jose, and it looked very confusing. Now that all striping is complete, I can see why: They took out a lane! The did this last year on 10th and 11th streets, and now they make Hedding one each way from the courthouse to Highway 101. San Jose is getting bigger and they keep taking away lanes. Now it will be harder to get anywhere around San Jose.
A Removing a lane of traffic and adding bike lanes has become a common strategy in many Bay Area cities to slow down drivers and make life easier for bicyclists. There was a noticeable uproar a year ago when this was done along 10th and 11th streets, but that criticism appears to have eased. Does that mean traffic concerns were overstated?
Q The curve on Highway 4 past G street in the Antioch area has nothing to with any ongoing construction. This curve is about a tenth of a mile past G Street and the highway is finished. It would take one partial evening of work to take the curve out and surprise commuters with better traffic flow in the morning. For some reason Caltrans created this curve just because it can. It just screws up the traffic flow. I guess you have to go out and see it and drive it to appreciate how it creates backups for no reason.
A The backups may soon ease. In about two weeks, crews will open the new auxiliary lane westbound between Contra Loma Boulevard and Somersville Road. And then the existing two westbound through lanes on Highway 4 will be shifted slightly to the south toward the median. Once this change has occurred, the westbound lanes on Highway 4 will be straightened.
Q Do you know if there will be an onramp at Highway 4 westbound to Route 160?
A Yep. A project now being designed will provide a new connector ramp from westbound Highway 4 to northbound 160 and a new ramp from southbound 160 to eastbound Highway 4. This work could be underway by early next year. Go to http://4eastcounty.org for more information.
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