Q I just spent a week driving around the Salt Lake City area. It seemed like every other road I drove on was under construction as they improved roads, widened roads to add more lanes and were even building new roads.
San Jose seems to be the exact opposite. The only road construction I see on San Jose streets is projects like the Hedding Headache, where San Jose turned a four-lane thoroughfare into a two-lane parking lot.
I guess it's all part of some liberal fantasy where, if they make driving a car inconvenient enough, everybody will take mass transit or ride their bikes everywhere, and the Earth will be happy and rose petals will magically fall from the sky.
A Over the last three decades the Bay Area has added more than 500 miles of new highway lanes -- 300 of them in the San Jose area. You pick a highway and it's wider than ever. While bottlenecks remain -- think north Interstate 680 up the Sunol Grade -- most of our highways are as wide as they are ever going to be.
But numerous cities are rethinking their street network. And many are opting to reduce the number of lanes to add bicycle and bus-only lanes. San Jose, San Francisco, Santa Clara and Sunnyvale are among leaders of that effort.
What do you think the solution is? Wider roads? Narrower roads? More toll lanes? More transit? More bike lanes? Another recession?
Q Forget the sun and other stupid complaints. Why in the heck aren't folks in San Jose and elsewhere not crying about our city streets? I can't enjoy my $50,000 Lexus. I am now thinking about buying an old clunker to bounce around in.
A And bounce you will. San Jose spends about $20 million a year for street repairs and should be spending about $100 million a year. It also faces a $339 million backlog to repair 375 miles of neighborhood streets in poor shape.
In a few weeks the city may announce a tax measure to address possible funding fixes. Being considered are a general city sales tax, extending and diverting to street repair a 30-year, countywide half-cent sales tax that voters passed in 2000 to pay for BART, or a $295 million street repair bond measure.
But even where street repairs are in full-speed-ahead more, there is unhappiness.
Q I just have to say the repaving in Sunnyvale along Evelyn and Mary avenues is the most poorly managed road project I have ever witnessed. The intersection at Central Expressway is a mess every morning and requires nearly 10 minutes just to get onto Evelyn (I live off California Avenue). On my way home, when I am turning onto Mary I've waited through four cycles before getting through (more than 10 minutes). It's a terrible, terrible mess. Any chance you know when they will finish their construction?
A Sure, but first. ...
Q Does Sunnyvale do any advance planning and have some cutoff on what percentage of an area can be under construction at any given time? I work on North Mary. It's unreal here. I was trying to go to Fremont and Mary at lunch, a 10-minute drive each way in traffic, took me 45. There is construction at Mary and Maude, Mary and Evelyn (tons of it). When I got to Mathilda there was construction there. I turned right on El Camino and then left on Mary and more construction. On the way back I decided to just go down Mary, since it was open that direction. Huge mistake. At Evelyn some genius decided to block ALL traffic in that direction and divert us toward Mathilda. They wouldn't even let you make a right on the side streets to connect to Mathilda.
A The city says it does review traffic management plans submitted by private development projects for safety and traffic flow considerations. However, numerous variables continually affect the timing of each project, making them impractical to coordinate. Many of the roads you mention are part of the city's road repaving list underway now. The good news is that repaving on Evelyn will be completed in about two weeks.