Q I find it amazing how many drivers are upset with the "share the road" signs on our freeways. I drive Highway 4 five-plus days a week and these signs are very necessary. I try to stay as far right as I safely can to allow clearance for motorcycles.
However, I watch cars edge toward the center line when a motorcycle is coming up between traffic in order to impede their passage, and many that change lanes right in front of the motorcycle. Of course, the motorcyclist has to watch out for them, along with watching out for people who refuse to hang up their phones and those who still think they can drive and text at the same time.
This is a very dangerous highway to travel on, but people are so concerned with their own right-of-passage that they are totally ignorant of anyone else. It's like "how dare you be on the road when I need to be there." We need better CHP patrols -- really!
A The CHP has been alerted. We need folks to drive carefully on Highway 4, which rivals the I-80 approach to the Bay Bridge as the region's most congested stretch of pavement.
Q A recent reader mentioned how unoccupied toll booths are affecting the flow of traffic. The best toll bridge in the Bay Area is the Benicia Bridge, where there are express FasTrak lanes with no booths and cars can easily pass through at the speed limit. The rest of the bay bridges have FasTrak lanes, but with booths still in place. These lanes are quite narrow and limit speed. Why can't some of these unused booths be removed and the lanes converted to express lanes to speed up traffic?
A Some can. Before Halloween, bridge officials hope to remove the toll booth in lane 17 on the Bay Bridge and use the space between lanes 17 and 18 for FasTrak users to cruise through at high speeds without having to slow, just like on the Benicia Bridge.
This is called open-road tolling, but it may not become widespread at toll plazas for fear of safety concerns, with slow-moving traffic having to stop and pay tolls vs. FasTrak users going much faster.
Q I live in Hayward. Are the rules for parking different here from the rest of the county, state or country? Here people park across sidewalks, which means that pedestrians are forced out into the street. I walk a lot around my neighborhood with my dog, and that can be a scary situation. How are pedestrians supposed to get anywhere safely when sidewalks are used as parking lots?
I have lived in other cities in Alameda County and have never encountered anything like this before.
A Parking on a sidewalk is irritating and illegal. But is it really worse in Hayward than other Bay Area cities?
Q They recently changed eastbound Interstate 580 in Pleasanton to a 55 mph "Work Zone." The problem is they only put signs indicating the lower speed limit on the right side of a 5- to 6-lane freeway. With all the trucks that occupy the right lanes, these signs could be easily missed if one is in the left lanes. Why didn't Caltrans also put the reduced speed limit signs on the left side of the freeway as well?
A Caltrans says signs are only on the right side because median work prevents it from placing signs on the left side.
Q Quick question on the Interstate 680 auxiliary lane project in Danville. When it is completed, will the center lanes be repaved like the rest of 680 in the area with the blacktop-type road?
A No. Caltrans will not be touching the center lanes in this project. One concrete lane will be added in each direction on the right and the shoulders will also be concrete. There will be no black asphalt used.
Q I test-drove a Prius recently with the salesman in the car. At the end of the drive, we returned to the lot. I asked the salesman if I should back into the space that the car came from and he approved. It was a tight fit. There was a light pole in the corner among the cars. I backed into it and damaged the bumper. I'm told that they have insurance for this. Do you know how this situation is handled?
A Tully-the-Insurance-Man says he was surprised the dealer would allow you to back the car into the slot: "When I was test-driving cars just a few years ago, once you came back into the lot, you left it right in the middle of the lane and the dealer would put the car back from where it came.
"But regardless, the dealer will have insurance on their inventory called a garage policy. This would cover damages caused during a test drive and will also likely include liability insurance if there is an accident during the test drive resulting in damage to other vehicles or people. By necessity, since dealers are in the business of selling vehicles which will require allowing people to drive the cars, the dealer has coverage that extends to those wanting to test-drive a car with dealer permission."
Q Why hasn't the Bird Avenue trestle with the "RIP TOMMY" graffiti on Interstate 280 in San Jose been cleaned? I remember hearing it would be taken care of back in early May. Any info? I feel truly sorry for their loss, but defacing public property does not create a proper memorial. Plant a tree, guys.
A A cleanup is tentatively scheduled the weekend of July 26-27. There's another large freeway sign along I-280 before the 101/280/680 split that was tagged with a reference to someone named Denise and was about the same size as the "RIP TOMMY" tag. Caltrans painted that tag over a few weekends ago, but it's already been retagged. It could be cleaned again when crews work on the "RIP TOMMY" tag.
Q Are there any plans to redo the Highway 101/Woodside Road interchange? Traffic is terrible trying to travel Woodside to get onto 101, and don't get me started about coming home in the afternoon trying to get back onto Woodside Road from either direction of 101.
A There is a glimmer of hope. Environmental and design work for a new interchange could be underway later this year and will take about two years to complete. Construction would begin later and could cost up to $52 million, depending on what design is chosen.
Q Is there any reason why traffic going west on Foxworthy Avenue in San Jose cannot cross Almaden Expressway and continue on Foxworthy? North and south Almaden traffic can enter Foxworthy and travel west, and traffic heading east on Foxworthy can cross Almaden and continue east. Surely the genius who devised this traffic pattern must have a logical answer.
Ben Druckerman and many more
A Here is the logic. The left-turn-only decision was made a few years ago for the Rubino residential project, about 1,000 residential units north of Foxworthy. The neighborhood to the west of the expressway was concerned about additional traffic going through on Hillsdale Avenue. To ease concerns, the city agreed to the left-turn ban to stop cars from going westbound.