Q Have you discussed the median work beginning on the east side of Caldecott Tunnels two and three? The left lanes are very narrow due to the construction on the median. What's going on and how long will it last?
A Two things are happening. Caltrans is installing a large drainage system in the median between the second and third bores, plus widening the shoulders and adding a permanent barrier between those tunnels. This will take several months.
And the state is about to begin a needed change on the approach to bore No. 2. The slope of the road now runs perpendicular to traffic across the lane. The west end of the second bore is currently built for westbound or downhill traffic but the new grade will make it easier for eastbound traffic to navigate through here. Many drivers think the old layout contributes mightily to afternoon congestion as motorists have to make an uphill trek.
Q Would you give us an update on 35th Avenue in Oakland below MacArthur Boulevard to E. 18th Street? It's one of the busier streets in Oakland and is full of holes, potholes and cracked sidewalks. When will it be repaved?
A There are no paving plans. The city says 35th Avenue from E. 18th to Harper Street is in good condition, as it was paved in 2007. But curb ramps and damaged sidewalks are being fixed. Call 510-615-5566 to report any issues like this in Oakland.
Q I was driving on Fremont Boulevard towards Washington Boulevard to make a left on Driscoll Road past the bridge in Fremont. After entering Washington and passing Roberts Avenue, I had to stop at the traffic light. When I started driving my wife asked why are you driving suddenly much slower? I said that the speed limit just dropped from 35 to 25 mph on the bridge. Once we cross the bridge and continued on Washington toward 680, the speed limit jumped to 40 mph.
I always felt that this was strange. What is the reason to lower the speed limit just on the bridge?
A The 25-mph speed limit on the short stretch of Washington between Driscoll and Fremont Boulevard is the same speed the city had along that segment when there was a railroad crossing. The city kept the speed limit the same after the project ended because of steep grades and businesses along there. But it will survey the street and may set a new speed limit.
Q I have taken Highway 12 west at Interstate 80 when it was jam-packed. And when I called 511 it said there were no incidents. Traffic was stopped; it was terrible. I know there is construction going on, but it should be noted. Your thoughts?
A I sympathize with you. Caltrans does periodically close the highway from 11 p.m. until 5 a.m. and when they do they send out commuter advisories and post message signs on nearby I-80 and Highway 29. But Jameson Canyon is known to back up even when there are no scheduled closures.
This is something the project is meant to improve. Caltrans is adding a traffic lane in each direction between Solano and Napa counties and adding a concrete median along the six-mile stretch.
Work should end later this year.
Q Would you happen to have any updates on changing the Page Mill Road-280 interchange in Palo Alto? I'm sure many others are still tired of the backups on 280.
A Yes, there is an update. Caltrans expects to finish a study in July to review possible changes. Then preliminary engineering and design will take about two years after securing funds. Construction to add a traffic signal and remove the four-way stop signs on the southbound 280 offramp to Page Mill could start around the fall of 2016 if funding for the $7 million project is in place.
Drivers report that it can take 15 minutes to make left turns here, and that spills traffic onto the long exit lane and even back onto the freeway.
Traffic officials say at non-peak hours, Page Mill would mostly have green lights. They may also remove the westbound Page Mill loop ramp to south 280, and the south 280 connection to Page Mill would be moved so it aligns with the ramp from Page Mill to south 280 rather than with Arastradero Road, as it does now.
By the way, I first wrote about this mess in 1999.
Q Are there going to be changes for the intersection of Almaden Express and Cherry Avenue in South San Jose? Since they removed the merge lane from Cherry onto Almaden, traffic can back up for blocks on Cherry. Sometimes it will take 15 minutes for this signal to change. Those of us who live in the townhouses along Cherry cannot even get out of our driveways for several minutes because traffic is blocking us from entering the street. After the shopping center opens, traffic will be more horrific.
A Maybe not. The flow could improve, as the new signals should result in less delay for everyone using the intersection. And a new lane is coming in the northbound direction of Almaden from Highway 85 to Cherry. This new lane will connect to the existing fourth lane on Almaden between Cherry and Branham, which is striped as a right-turn-only lane to Branham Lane.
Q The metering light from South First Street in San Jose to south I-280 seems to have a delay. Every metered light I have experienced blinks at a regular pace to let cars through. This one periodically shows red for what seems like a long time -- maybe up to a minute. The car stopped at the light starts getting nervous (that was me one day) and runs the light, and cars behind stack up way down to 1st Street. I have had other cars pass me as I was stopped there. This is scary. So, is this intentional, in which case I will continue to wait for the green light, or is it an issue with the light?
A There was a problem with the light. The first car at the limit line may at times be hard to detect, so the state adjusted the sensitivity of the loop detector and it seems to have helped. Motorists also tend to veer onto the right shoulder and may miss the detectors.