Q When I was in high school I heard a very interesting "fact" about our interstate system. Is it true that every so many miles of every interstate has to be straight so if we ever go on a full-scale war, such as World War II, that they could be used as runways for airplanes? Is this true or am I just a gullible person?
A This is a long-standing myth, but many still believe that one in every five miles of the interstate system was to be straight so they could be used as emergency landing strips for aircraft if the regular airports were bombed.
Greg-the-Caltrans-Historian said it would have been ridiculously expensive to require straight sections every few miles. Buying the right-of-way would gotten extremely difficult. The National Defense Highway System was meant to be able to move materiel and soldiers quickly around the country if necessary -- by ground.
Q Just an interesting question. If the definition of an interstate is a motorway passing between states, what states do 880, 680, and 280 cross? I understand that they all link to Interstate 80 (which crosses many states), but they are completely in California.
A I-80 is the primary interstate here. The others -- 280, 380, 580, 680, 780, 880 and 980 -- are auxiliary interstates that provide access to populated areas that I-80 passes through. Each metropolitan area that I-80 passes through will have those three-digit interstates. This naming convention also applies to Interstate 5 in L.A., which has interstates 405, 705, 605, etc.
Q I need to vent about a traffic issue. You're an understanding soul, aren't you?
A Most certainly (most days, at least).
Q I commute on Highway 237 to 101 around 7 p.m. By that time on most days, traffic has died down. But once every month or two, traffic will be clogged up starting at 237 and Interstate 880. My 25-minute drive becomes an hour and 25 minutes. Inevitably, it's due to a show at Shoreline Amphitheatre.
This offends me. What can be done?
A The shows won't stop, so check Shoreline's website for upcoming events to help plan ahead. But here is what else you can do:
Call 511 to get updated road reports, or go to 511.org, plug in your commute and get traffic updates emailed or texted to you before heading onto the freeway. Then you can figure out a different route -- maybe 880 south to 101 north or 880 to the Dumbarton Bridge, both of which are partly reverse commutes. And if you are traveling before 7 p.m., get FasTrak to use the 880-237 toll lane.
Q One day this lifetime I would love my 101 commute from Marsh Road to 237 to be construction-free. Is there anything else planned on 101 after the auxiliary lane work is completed around Highway 85?
A Oh, my, yes, but it will be a few years before more construction is under way and most of it will be south of 237 -- converting the carpool lanes on 101 into toll lanes down to Morgan Hill and adding a second exit lane from south 101 to south 87.
Q Santa Teresa Boulevard in the South Bay is in the process of a long overdue repaving. Do you know if the popular bicycle lanes on this road will get the new green colors?
A They will not. The Santa Teresa paving will preserve the existing bike lanes, but not color them green.
San Jose does have two green bike lane projects that are scheduled to begin construction soon -- on Hedding Street from the Guadalupe River Trail at Highway 87 to 17th Street later this year, and on San Fernando Street from Cahill Street at the Diridon rail station to 11th Street, for which construction is scheduled to start next spring.