Q Last Friday I left home at 10:15 a.m. and hit Highway 101 north from Interstate 680 about five minutes later. As it was a Friday, and late in the morning, I was expecting a quick trip up 101 to 237 in Mountain View. Well, not so. The Mother of All Traffic Jams was on 101. It was a tremendous backup. I expected at some point to come upon a major accident with car parts all over the road.
But no, it was something else causing this major, major delay -- the useless electronic message sign on 101 right before Great America. Caltrans had a message saying "Expect delays due to BART strike." Once past that sign, traffic picked up to 70 mph. Caltrans caused the delay, not the BART strike, by using the electronic sign for a totally useless message.
A Totally useless? There was also an early morning crash that day by the 85-101 interchange, but the more warning of the BART strike the better. It affects thousands of travelers, including Caltrain riders who travel to Millbrae and would normally catch BART up the Peninsula.
Q I, too, get upset with drivers using the left-turn lane onto Shoreline Boulevard from 101 to instead veer right at the last possible moment to try and get around the always long backup at that ramp. They are rude, inconsiderate and dangerous. I would prefer using other names, but I understand the Merc is a family newspaper.
A We try to be. Lt. Greg-the-Mountain View-Traffic-Cop sent this follow-up:
"I had a couple traffic guys go out there and they wrote about 30 tickets in less than an hour for a variety of violations, but focused on the last-minute cars divebombing in to make the right turn. It ends up being either an unsafe lane change or violation of the posted signs, depending on whether they divebomb before the intersection or once they enter it.
"The guys tell me there were lots more; they just couldn't pull them over fast enough. They even got a couple buses that did it and blocked traffic for each other. We will keep at it."
Q I drove home through the Valley Fair parking lot one night recently at 10 p.m. and found myself stuck in a horrendous traffic jam because traffic must stop at the red light to get onto south 280. When our light turned green, the intersection was not clear and we couldn't proceed.
There is no reason for a light at this onramp. All it does is create a backup where none existed before. Remember, I was there after 10 p.m. I can't imagine what it's like at 5 p.m.
A It hasn't been fun. But the problems you encountered should be fixed soon. On Tuesday, crews will be out to make adjustments to the signals at the I-880/Stevens Creek interchange. Once done, this is what you will find:
Westbound Stevens Creek drivers will get a green left-turn signal to the freeway only when traffic continuing west or straight gets a green light.
Eastbound Stevens Creek drivers turning right onto south I-880 will get a green when all eastbound Stevens Creek drivers get a green.
Eastbound Stevens Creek drivers turning right onto southbound I-880 will also get a green when drivers from the Stevens Creek exit from southbound I-880 get a green. This essentially provides drivers the opportunity to enter the south I-880 ramp during two of the three cycles and hopefully ease some of the backup from Monroe.
Contact Gary Richards at firstname.lastname@example.org or 408-920-5335.