Q Good things get better! I really missed you and your column while you were recuperating from surgery. I just wanted to let you know that the new Roadshow Web page is a fantastic idea. Now I can immerse myself in your column with plenty of new items to check out.
A Such as ...
Q Please add a link on your new Web page to the article on free right turns. I think this topic is of interest to many.
A Done. Go to Roadshow's expanded online presence at www.mercurynews.com/mr-roadshow and look for "The mysterious free right turn" under "Favorites from the archives." Readers continue to ask about this subject five years after I wrote a story on an issue that baffles drivers, some DMV instructors and more than a few traffic cops. The website also features rules of the road, construction updates and graphics, and if you have other issues you wish me to post from the past, just ask.
Here is what constitutes a right turn one can make without stopping. They are legal at some intersections. It all depends on where the signals are set up.
Where it's legal:
Motorists are allowed to turn right without stopping at intersections with an island -- concrete or painted -- separating the turning lane if there is no signal or stop sign to the right of the turn. Treat this as a "yield" situation. Slow down, watch for pedestrians and bicyclists, and proceed when safe. An example: south on Santa Cruz Avenue in Los Gatos, turning right onto Los Gatos-Saratoga Road.
Where it's not legal:
Motorists must stop at similar intersections if there is a red light or stop sign to their right as they turn. This is the case at northbound Saratoga Avenue onto eastbound Payne Avenue in San Jose.
Q Help. The new lights on Capitol Expressway are driving me crazy. Why are our tax dollars being used to install quaint street post lighting every 30 or so feet when adequate lighting already exists? Although signs state that these are pedestrian improvements, this is a commute artery, not a quaint downtown walkway, and lighting already exists. To help my sanity, can you ask your VTA friends the purpose of these lights?
A The Capitol Expressway corridor has been redefined as "a multimodal corridor," with upgrades planned for light rail, buses, bicycles and pedestrians. The improvements include a continuous sidewalk with a multiuse path in certain areas and a landscape buffer along the expressway. A key component is adequate pedestrian lighting.
The original streetlights satisfied only the minimal level to support expressway traffic. The new lights also meet standards for automobiles and provide adequate pedestrian lighting along the sidewalk. There are 158 streetlights and 263 pedestrian lights that have been installed for approximately $2.9 million.
Q The Capitol Expressway exit from southbound 680 is an absolute nightmare during the afternoon commute. Traffic backs up to as far as McKee Road almost daily.
The reason: The McKee onramp feeds onto the Alum Rock Road offramp, which is also the onramp to the freeway. And the exit to the Capitol offramp is only a few hundred yards up.
Did that make sense? This has to be one of the worst exits around and desperately needs some form of improvement. Are there plans to improve the McKee-Alum Rock-Capitol mess?
A There is only a glimmer of hope. No improvements are planned but your plea prompted the VTA to add this interchange to its list of road improvements for future consideration.
Q The repair work that has recently been done on Highway 85 between 280 and 101 is nothing less than great. It hasn't disrupted traffic that much and more surprisingly it really smoothed the drive and repaired so many potholes. I'm sure the alignment shops aren't happy, but we are. It seems like a new paving technique was used to accomplish this remarkable transformation. What did they do differently? It sure is worth it.
A Broken concrete was removed and those areas were filled with polyester grout. It is more expensive than a normally used faster-setting grout, but is a technique Caltrans now uses on almost all concrete slab replacement projects. Work should end this month.