Q We travel to Brentwood to visit family using the interchange at Interstate 580 to I-680. However, recently I noticed new signs on 580 that say: "SAN JOSE 84." Is this a viable option to avoid 580-680? What is the road like -- two lanes or what? Is it like Vasco Road? Do you recommend using 84? Holiday traffic is horrific at 580-680; otherwise we pick days of lighter traffic and it isn't bad enough yet to have us change our route. But 84 would be a good idea if it isn't dangerous like Vasco.
A The new signs are up because of improvements made on Highway 84, with more upgrades planned.
Last year Caltrans and the city of Livermore built the Isabel interchange off 580 and realigned 84. And now the state is widening 84 between Jack London and Concannon Boulevard from two to four lanes, a job that should be done a year from now.
If Alameda County's sales tax should get a two-thirds margin (the measure was narrowly behind at last count) once all ballots are tallied from Tuesday's election, there are plans to widen 84 eventually to a six-lane expressway between 580 and Stanley Boulevard, and to a four-lane expressway between Stanley and Pigeon Pass.
So should you test this route now? I'll take a spin up there this weekend because Sgt.-Tom-the-Alameda-County-Deputy recommends it highly: "I like the road. Wide, sweeping turns and gets you away from the 580-680 mess. I would use it coming from San Jose to areas east."
Q I commute to Livermore via Highway 13 and Interstate 580. To whom can I complain about the roller coaster ride on 13? It's so much worse than Highway 24 east was near Lafayette before it got fixed last year. I grab onto the steering wheel a bit tighter when I go through this section to make sure I don't leave my lane.
A I turned to Bill-the-Caltrans-Paving-Man, and if he can't get the job done, well ... you are out of luck. Sorry to say that may be the case. Said Bill: "Highway 13 is prone to movement and there are a few very minor dips up and down this route. If you are traveling the speed limit these dips should not be a concern. We will continue to monitor this area and if the area becomes a hazard we will schedule repairs."
Q The northbound onramp to Interstate 880 at Mission Boulevard is closed periodically. They have also lined the intersection with K-rail and have begun some work. I assume (dangerous, I know) that this is for the expansion of BART. Do you know what will be done?
A You ask and Bernice-the-VTA-Spokeswoman delivers, saying the Mission/Warren improvements indeed are part of the prep work to bring BART to San Jose. The work includes:
The construction barriers will protect workers now demolishing one of two Union Pacific bridges. This work is mainly occurring at night when ramps are closed between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. Demolition on the first bridge may be complete in another week or so, but barriers will remain in place for two years. The entire job is expected to be finished in early 2015.
Q The 280-880 interchange project seems like a great idea, but it still doesn't address the bottleneck problem of northbound Interstate 280 as it passes under Highway 17. I thought I read something in the past from you about how it is unfeasible to widen north 280 in this location because of the presence of support columns for the Winchester Boulevard and 17 overpasses, the financial cost, and the need to have a dedicated lane for northbound 17 drivers merging onto north 280.
This project will help shoppers get to the malls, but does not seem to provide any relief for daily 280 commuters. Please tell me there is some other project in the works that will help out with the north 280 morning congestion woes.
A Alas, there is only this: Lanes will be changed on north 280 so that traffic bound for north 880 toward Oakland will use the far right lane to take a new overpass instead of the lane to the left, as they do now. This will ease the confusion for some drivers and should help the northbound 280 commute a little, but not a lot.
Q Stupid timing on rebuilding 280-880 next to Valley Fair -- right before the holiday shopping season. What idiots plan these things?
A Most of the initial work this holiday season will occur on Stevens Creek Boulevard in preparation for the heavy lifting next year. This should not cause massive traffic problems other than what usually occurs. The big headache will take place in 2013 and 2014.