Q Mr. Toad Show: Are you aware of the problems that your suggestion to drive Foothill Road in Sunol as a way around traffic on Interstate 680 and Niles Canyon Road is causing?
A No, but I think I am about to find out.
Q I've lived there for more than 20 years, and enjoying the scenic drive on Foothill is great as long as you can stand the impatient drivers racing to the stop sign at the corner of Foothill and Castlewood -- and yes I do mean racing! So many commuters actually pass each other on a stretch of Foothill of less than a mile at speeds up to 70 miles an hour, only to end up in a line of cars 20 to 30 deep. By the way this racing takes place in a residential neighborhood.
If you like, please post your address and we will gladly send over 30 or 40 racers to blast up and down your street!
A You think I'm nuts? Let's set the record straight: It was not my suggestion but that of other drivers, one of whom said: "It sometimes works better to exit Highway 84 into Sunol and take Foothill Road to Castlewood Drive and then onto I-680. It is curvy and slow, but it avoids the long lineup at Sunol Corners and it's much more scenic, passing Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park."
Q Using Foothill Road as an alternative route north from the Valley to the Tri-Valley is not a good option. Having used both Foothill and Sunol Roads, Sunol Road is the better option with its much wider road surface, shoulders and almost no usage, especially in the evening commute. Foothill, with its narrow width, dangerous shoulder drop-offs and turns and the presence of cyclists and runners, now has backups sometimes a quarter-mile long approaching Castlewood Drive. Also, the CHP and Alameda County Sheriff officers are frequently ticketing speeders on this road. Sunol Road is the better option.
A And ...
Q A much better alternative is to take Pleasanton/Sunol Road; it is much faster, and more importantly MUCH SAFER, as there have been many accidents on Foothill Road. Alameda County patrols Foothill regularly and on one day issued more than 71 citations to people for unsafe driving. Foothill also is used by many cyclists and pedestrians headed for Pleasanton Ridge Park and is not a safe alternative to 680! Additionally, because of what people have been doing, there is now a long backup at the Foothill/Castlewood intersection as people try to get back onto 680. There is no backup on Pleasanton/Sunol Road, making it a much faster in addition to much safer alternative.
A Mr. Toad Show thanks you for your warnings.
Q Between West Oakland and Lake Merritt, BART trains go underground and slow way, way down through a bunch of bumps and squeaks and what feel like curves. It seems to have been that way for quite some time. Why must trains go so slowly through that stretch? And can anything be done to get them through there a bit speedier?
A Your impression that trains between West Oakland and downtown Oakland stations are slowly going through curves is exactly what is happening, said Jim-the-BART-Man:
"The BART system was built in an 'X' pattern and the center of that X is a complex section of tracks called the Oakland wye. This is where all the tracks converge and a series of interlockings makes it possible for trains to switch from one set of tracks to another.
"As trains travel through the Oakland wye, they are automatically slowed to 18 mph to safely navigate the sharp curves in tracks. When trains travel over the interlockings, you feel the bumps."
To improve speeds through this section would require rebuilding the underground tracks -- a major, expensive, time-consuming undertaking that is not planned.
Q The metering lights on Highway 4 are a headache! It took me almost an extra half-hour to go from Bay Point to Martinez due to these lights. All the ramps are backed up and people are driving in the carpool lane to get ahead. Side roads are backed up with people trying to get around traffic. A trip used to take a half-hour in heavy traffic sometimes. Now I must allow an hour. I hope they are happy somewhere as those I know are NOT. Usual traffic worked better and didn't lock us in town waiting to get on the freeway.
A The meters aren't going to be turned off. Check back in a month or so and update us then.
Q A loyal reader of your column for years.
I recently got a ticket for turning right on red into the Millbrae BART station, on that dreaded intersection of Millbrae Avenue and Rollins Drive. It's definitely me in the picture. I stopped and then turned, but how do I prove that? Isn't a complete stop then turning red always legal unless there's a sign? So, what's the real story? Can you point me in the right direction or tell me to suck it up and pay?
A You have the right to view the video. Go to www.ViolationInfo.com on the Web and enter the notice number and the PIN Number located at the top right of your notice to appear. If you do not have Internet access, go to a public library for Internet access to view your images.
Then let me know what happens.
Q Here's something that's happening on Highway 101 in Mountain View. There's been construction going on to add more lanes to 101 where Highway 85 merges with it.
As part of that construction the lanes are being continuously shifted, especially south between San Antonio Road and 85. The pavement is concrete. When the original lane markings are ground out, they leave a black mark on the concrete pavement and the new ones painted in white, which do not contrast with the light concrete surface. This causes a hazardous situation during morning commute hours because of the sun glare off the road. Caltrans should be doing a better job of keeping the lane markings clear while construction is going on.
I hope you can bring this up with those concerned and the problem can be rectified.
A Oh, I have. This is a bad situation, but a temporary one. Caltrans will repave all lanes in the construction zone next year when weather warms up. The widening should be completed later this year.