Q I just finished driving south on Highway 101 through Salinas and noticed that Caltrans was watering the ice plant along the freeway. After resetting all my landscape sprinklers to save 20 percent of my usage, I was extremely peeved to see this. Doesn't Caltrans listen to the governor? Can you enlighten me?
Mary Lou Strathmeyer
A I'll try. Caltrans reset the start times on all controllers to come on at 9 a.m. in this area to avoid water getting on the ramps and freezing overnight. Watering days have also been reduced from three days to one day a week. If it ever rains this winter, the system will be shut down completely.
Statewide, Caltrans is looking at various strategies to reduce water use, including adjusting schedules to water at night, using non-potable water for dust control and delaying nonessential landscaping projects until the next rainy season. But some sprinklers must be turned off manually and that requires dispatching maintenance workers to get to each one.
Q My daughter, who has two small children, and I have wondered why they don't include diaper-changing stations inside the otherwise nice Caltrans rest stops. On several trips to Reno she has had to change the baby in a cold car that is also packed for vacation. It would be so nice to have a diaper-changing table in the heated building. Why aren't these available? They seem pretty common and not especially complicated to install.
A Not a bad idea, but the state has no plans to install baby-changing stations at its 87 rest areas, citing concerns about safety, maintenance, sanitation, diaper disposal and a lack of on-site workers.
Q Why is the women's bathroom at the DMV Los Gatos office so filthy? The walls had not been painted in a long time. The floor was filthy. Black dirt on the floor. The sink was extremely dirty. It was really, really horrible.
A Better news here. Custodians will spend more time cleaning restroom floors after hours, but there is no midday cleaning done at this office. The DMV will also paint its restrooms in Los Gatos.
Q A few weeks ago, a reader wrote about the unacceptable lack of signage and markings at the Embarcadero/Oregon Expressway exit off Highway 101 in Palo Alto. Your response was that Caltrans was going to fix it. It has not been fixed.
A Signs should be installed in a week or so. Also, Caltrans will remove about 20 percent of the cement barriers along the widening project that aren't needed anymore.
Q I'm looking at buying a new car and need your help. I notice that three cars seem to get away with anything, usually high end -- Audi, Mercedes and Porsche. These drivers are the worst. Using the carpool lane, speeding, cutting people off and reckless driving. Of these, which one gets fewer tickets?
A Whew. I'm just relieved you left the Prius off your list.