Q A year ago a representative from Caltrans spoke to us in Walnut Creek about the fourth bore of the Caldecott Tunnel. She extolled the advantages of the new bore relative to traffic jams and claimed all our delay problems would be resolved once the new bore opened.
But lately some friends tell me that there will be no relief during peak hours and I believe them. I wished I had asked her this question, but I did not so I am asking you.
A The Caltrans representative was partly correct, and if you dare venture out -- don't! -- to the Caldecott on Friday afternoon or evening you'll see the pluses the new bore will bring when it opens later this year.
But first, Friday is traffic Armageddon day -- Giants (40,000-plus fans) and A's (25,000) both home, the huge Jay Z and Justin Timberlake concert at Candlestick Park (53,000) and other concerts -- the indie-rock band the Postal Service at Berkeley (8,500) and rocker John Mayer at Shoreline (15,000) in Mountain View. All start around 7 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Plus, there is the critical mass bike ride in San Francisco on Friday. And getting into or out of San Francisco or the entire Bay Area on any Friday night is a challenge. Highway 101 from the South Bay to The City will be a crawl. Ditto I-80 and I-880 before the Bay Bridge, and any of the bridges. Interstate 280 will be heavier than usual and I-380 will be slow. And the Caldecott will be no picnic, either.
So plan ahead. Go to www.ticketmaster.com/jtjzcommute for public transportation options for getting to Candlestick. Take a shuttle from the San Mateo County Event Center to the 'Stick and buy tickets in advance at www.ticketmaster.com. Parking will be $25 before 4:30 p.m.; $40 afterward.
Check the BART and Caltrain websites. If taking a train, buy round-trip tickets before getting on board so you're not stuck in a long line afterward.
Now, back to Wally and the Caldecott.
Q Presently two bores serve morning traffic going west and one going east. In the afternoon two bores serve eastbound traffic and one serves westbound. Once the fourth bore opens, there will be two bores going in each direction. What will be different then than what we have now?
A Two bores will be open each way all day when the new tunnel opens later this year. Until then, two of the three bores are open in the peak direction and one in the non-commute direction.
Here's the problem. On weekends, what is the peak direction? Friday night will be an example of the dilemma Caltrans faces. Traffic will be heavy as usual westbound, so two bores will be available. But it will also be slow-and-go eastbound with the baseball games, concerts and city visitors. Yet only one bore will be available.
Q I noticed that what you call a soft-median barrier will be installed on Highway 152 in an attempt to help reduce head-on crashes. Didn't they try this on Highway 25 and didn't deaths drop there rather dramatically?
Q Yes they did, and dramatic is an appropriate description. Once one of the state's deadliest thoroughfares, Highway 25 has turned into one of the safest two-lane roads in Northern California, a happy turnaround from 13 years ago, when 12 people died on the route linking Highway 101 and Hollister. Since then, there has been one fatality after numerous safety upgrades on the flat, 11-mile route.
Caltrans made several improvements on Highway 25, installing a four-foot median rumble strip flanked by double yellow stripes; widening shoulders, with more rumble strips placed there; banning passing; and lowering the speed limit to 55 mph.
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