Q Why does San Jose always seem to be on the short end of the freeway budget?
A It is?
Q Why are all the main routes into the area still so antiquated? Look at Highway 152 (Pacheco Pass), the main thoroughfare to SoCal, that is still two lanes. Look at the Mission Boulevard crossover between 880 and 680 where after all the work there we will still have two signal lights? And the one-lane offramp from west 580 to south 680 in Livermore? Look at Highway 17 that is still not controlled access. You would think the state thinks of San Jose as some sleepy suburb of San Francisco instead of the third largest city in the state.
A Those are all serious bottlenecks, but Santa Clara County has added nearly 500 highway and expressway lanes in the past two decades. That is the most of any county in the region. Most of the cash for that work has come from voters through county tax increases.
State dollars are scarce and some of the areas on your wish list are incredibly expensive -- such as the many millions needed to build a toll road to bypass 152. Do we need more money? Of course, but don't look for it come from Sacramento.
Q I was recently taking bus line 63 through the Diridon station and then down San Fernando Street and saw, to my surprise, bicycle lanes being painted green (which I understand is now a popular thing) and general repaving and lane improvements throughout the area. Is this meant to curb the effect that Highway 87 has, cutting off the Diridon-Alameda area from the rest of downtown, and aid bicycle transit between the two? Or is the city perhaps overzealous about the bike-share program? Either way, it seems like a lot of work for such a small and dare I say somewhat insignificant stretch of road.
A The city received a $1.4 million grant to improve San Fernando, and work should end early this year. Work is not limited to bike improvements but includes improvements to streetlights, trees, sidewalks, curb ramps and crosswalks as well. The bike lanes will be colored green and buffers between travel lanes and bike lanes will be painted in. There will be no impact to motor vehicle travel lanes (i.e., no removing of traffic lanes).
The city's bicycle plan designates San Fernando as a primary bikeway to include a direct connection from the Diridon station to downtown and San Jose State. Basic bike lanes were installed on San Fernando in 2005 and traffic counts in 2005 and 2012 show bicycling has increased from 562 to 1,189 per day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., an increase of 112 percent.
Q What is the work being done on the center divide along Interstate 680 in San Jose? Every quarter mile or so, there is what looks like a repair patch in the concrete center divider. If the divider is metal guardrails, there is an orange construction cone instead.
A This is part of the 680 ramp metering project, where Caltrans is widening ramps and installing meters and new median concrete barriers.