Q Caltrans must resolve congestion at the Interstate 880-FasTrak approach to the Bay Bridge toll plaza. One morning it took me 40 minutes at 6:30 a.m. to advance about 1,000 feet from where plastic stick dividers are located to the final approach to the toll plaza. When the FasTrak-only lane at the merge from West Grand Avenue in Oakland gets congested, many cars on I-880 will drive further toward the toll plaza and then cut into the FasTrak lane. It becomes crazy when big rigs with double trailers cut into the FasTrak lane. It becomes even more chaotic if cars coming from West Grand lose patience and drive on the shoulder and cut into the FasTrak lane.
A Hey, this is a problem all over the Bay Area.
Q I am really concerned about the Benicia Bridge, where I have had experiences with people driving in the FasTrak lane until they come to a complete stop to merge into the toll lane. It is an accident waiting to happen. There are no barriers when you enter the FasTrak lane like on the Bay Bridge to prevent motorists from doing this. Can you get some info on this ongoing problem?
A And to the south ...
Q I have witnessed two multivehicle accidents on the approach to the San Mateo Bridge toll plaza, both caused by someone trying to move out of the carpool lane before the toll plaza because they were either not carpooling or did not have FasTrak.
Can you utilize your influence to have a barrier installed similar to the Dumbarton Bridge that prevents lane changes in and out of the carpool lane from Industrial Parkway to the toll plaza?
A You are frustrated, and so are bridge officials. John-the-MTC-Man says bluntly: "I tend to see the root of the problem as a very small but persistent number of grossly discourteous drivers who seem to feel themselves entitled to use the FasTrak-only lanes to bypass queues in the cash/FasTrak lanes and then have to dive back into cash/FasTrak lanes at the last minute."
This problem will ease when all bridges go to FasTrak-only tolling or add express lanes, but that is years away.
Using "knock-over rubber lane dividers" has been another challenge, especially on the Bay Bridge. During the 2013 Labor Day weekend closure, workers installed about one-third of a mile of channelizers (which include both a flexible vertical segment and a fixed, roughly two-inch-high hard plastic base) toward the right side of the approach to the Bay Bridge toll plaza to help keep traffic coming in from 880 toward the right side, and traffic coming from 80 toward the middle of the approach. Within a few weeks, so many cars had traveled outside the intended channels that there were virtually none of the vertical segments left intact.
What was left behind were hundreds of feet of the hard plastic bases, which created a hazard for motorcycles in particular. Consequently, last fall crews removed several hundred feet of the channelizing system.