Q Hey Gary, I was just reading that the Golden Gate Bridge took four years to build. How possibly could the Loveridge Road overpass on Highway 4 take as long to complete? Geez.
A Times change. Environmental regulations, which were not a major issue in the 1930s when the Golden Gate was being built, have a significant impact on work schedules today. The Loveridge project goes over three creeks/waterways (Kirker Creek, Old Kirker Creek and Los Medanos Wasteway) and construction is allowed only from April to October in those areas.
Plus, crews have to keep lanes open during peak driving hours, which on Highway 4 is most of the day. More than 130,000 vehicles move through here each weekday.
Construction began on this $1.3 billion widening program in 2010. The completion of the widening from Loveridge to Highway 160 is scheduled for mid-2015, but the interchanges at Loveridge and Somersville roads could be done early next year.
Q I need some clarity regarding the Highway 4-Morello Avenue offramp heading west in Martinez. There are two right-turn lanes onto Morello. If you're on the inside lane furthest from the right, are you allowed to also turn at the red light after stopping and making sure it's safe? I'm asking because the driver to the right of us thought we were in the wrong for turning right when the light was red. No accident occurred, just words exchanged.
Please let me know if we were in the wrong.
A You were in the right. It is legal to make a right turn on a red light from either lane after stopping when safe to do so -- as long as both lanes are marked for right turns, which is the case here.
Q I take my dogs to Oyster Bay in San Leandro from Hayward, and Interstate 880 is particularly bad in and about the Highway 238 area. The road surface appears to be failing in long strips, some wide, some narrow. Not potholes or joint failures.
My other observation is 880 north in Oakland on the new concrete overpasses that are just a few months old. They are very rough and anything but smooth as one would expect from brand-new construction. Especially with today's modern application and control equipment. Or am I assuming too much from today's construction technology?
A There is a major pavement project scheduled here this summer. As for the concrete overpasses, they will smooth out in time but Caltrans says it seems good and they have not had any other complaints.
Q I recently read the Fremont police blotter stating they gave 95 parking tickets for "cars parked in every conceivable spot" on Stanford/Vineyard/Antelope Avenue in Fremont near the Mission Peak parking lot. As far as I am aware, I have never observed any no-parking signs, time limits or warnings in the area, so I was surprised to hear this news. Is that a valid reason to give a parking ticket on a public street, or is there more to this story that I'm missing? I'd really like to clarify this so I don't end up getting a similar ticket.
A There's more to this story. Mission Peak is a very popular regional park for hikers and the parking lot usually can't handle the demand so there's typically overflow parking into the surrounding neighborhood. On-street parking is allowed on most nearby streets, but there are a few places where parking is restricted and city traffic officials say those are clearly marked with signs or red curbs. Some people disregard those restrictions and park in front of fire hydrants and curb ramps, blocking crosswalks, etc. Those are the folks getting tickets.
Q Not long ago you printed a comment about the best route from the Bay Area to Las Vegas to avoid going through Bakersfield. Any insight you could provide would be appreciated.
A You can avoid Bakersfield by taking Highway 223. Some folks love this route.
Q Can you look into the problem of Moffett Park Drive and Mathilda Avenue in Sunnyvale? This tiny intersection sees traffic from Lockheed and many new tech companies in the area. The Moffett Towers landlords (I work in one of the buildings) says there is nothing to be done for several years to ease the congestion, even as they build more buildings.
Essentially, Mathilda traffic blocks the intersection, then the light goes red for them. Then the northbound left-turners attempt to crowd in, further blocking the intersection. Thus southbound, or straight through traffic, on Moffett is forced to wait through two, three, FOUR light changes before getting through.
You should see the dirty looks I get when the left-turners are still coming through the intersection on a red light and I start to come, sometimes in their lane of traffic, just to get one car through the light.
Can you help?
A And ...
Q After sitting in traffic for 20 minutes on northbound Mathilda trying to get through the 101/237 mess, I began to wonder if this monster could be tamed by simply cutting off access to 237. Looks like most if not all the craziness is simply from folks trying to enter eastbound 237 from north Mathilda/101. Every morning, people line up in the far right lane and wait to merge with the 101 offramp folks to get onto 237. Others who hate to wait zoom up in the far left lane over 101 and then cut/block traffic while crossing five lanes of traffic so they can also get to 237.
Those of us just trying to get to Yahoo and other points north are stuck in cross traffic and try like heck to keep calm with blockheads who think they have the right away to cut in and block everyone else while they try to enter 237. And once those high-rise office buildings around the area are finished there could be thousands of more cars, and this won't be just a monster but a Mega-Godzilla-sized one.
A Man, they don't call this the Mathilda Monster for no reason. Access to 237 won't be cut off, but Sunnyvale has plans to reconstruct the interchange in the next three to five years. In the meantime, they have upgraded the signals, but because of the proximity of the lights and the mix of ramp traffic from 237, it's a challenging task. There could be changes in the timing of the lights by the end of the year.
Q I live across from Dartmouth Middle School in San Jose at Blossom Hill Road and Park Crest Drive, where something changed in the past year or two, and we now have school parents making U-turns at Park Crest. It's a scary deal.
Most mornings, I find myself crossing my fingers hoping none of them hits me as I head toward the intersection to turn left onto Blossom Hill.
Now some sketch lines have been painted on the street, suggesting a change in the crosswalks. I'm a little worried the city is going to fix the problems by preventing residents from turning left. Can you shed any light on this?
A The city will move the crosswalk to the west side of the intersection to eliminate the conflict between pedestrians and turning vehicles. They'll also add a set of flashing beacons and an area in the median for pedestrians to wait. But the left-turn pocket will remain. Work should begin in June.