Q I drive at least once a week on westbound Interstate 238 to southbound I-880, where it is always a bottleneck before the flyover exit. I am convinced this is because only the right lane of the three lanes can exit to south 880. The left and middle lanes continue to north 880.
I am also convinced that if the middle lane could go either left or right, the bottleneck and backup would disappear. Most traffic is going to 880 south, so this would make sense to me, if not to Caltrans.
They made a similar change a few miles ahead at the east 580 to west 238 split so that the No. 3 lane can go either to 238 or 580. That seemed to help that area. Any thoughts?
A I like your idea and state engineers agree that re-striping the 238-to-880 exit lanes could ease congestion. But a change won't happen right away. They are concerned that to do so now would merely transfer the problem downstream and onto the southbound I-880 merge, where that freeway is already jammed. In addition, the queue could extend back onto 238 as well.
Here's the likely plan: Do the re-striping when the I-880 carpool lanes are converted into express lanes in a couple of years. That way some solo drivers could move into the carpool lane and reduce the number of vehicles in the non-carpool lanes.
Q My wife was on Interstate 680 recently. She decided to use the carpool lane, so she took her FasTrak transponder from the center console and placed it on her dashboard. A Highway Patrol officer gave her a ticket because the transponder was not attached to the windshield. Have you heard of others getting tickets for this?
A Yikes. I've done the same thing at the Benicia Bridge. But Steve-the-CHP-Man said rules require that the transponder be mounted inside the vehicle at least two inches from the top edge of the windshield in the center behind the mirror, or on the bottom right or left of the windshield to ensure proper toll payment.
FasTrak electronically collects tolls using a radio frequency system that activates your toll tag about 300 feet ahead of the overhead sensors. But some drivers who hold their transponder or place it on the dashboard do so late and it may not be read, making a cop think they are trying to avoid the toll.
Q In Castro Valley on Redwood at Grove/Crow Canyon off I-680 I've noticed a bunch of temporary detour signs under wood covers. Please tell me they are not going to relocate the ramps from 580 again.
A Rest easy. There are no plans to relocate the ramps in Castro Valley. The detours are needed when maintenance and construction activities necessitate some closures.
Q Recently I saw a train traveling in Antioch. By train, I mean a pickup pulling an RV pulling a boat trailer. Is this legal?
A Probably not. This is legal if the driver has gotten a "doubles/triples" permit to operate any commercial motor vehicle that is a double trailer. These are available only to Class A (big rig) drivers, and it allows them to pull more than one trailer. I doubt a guy in a pickup hauling an RV and boat fits that category.
Q I recently wrote you about the closed toll booth during the morning commute on the San Mateo Bridge that was fouling the morning commute. During the BART strike it was open early and my commute was a breeze. Am I missing something?
A No. The closed toll booth was temporarily staffed during the BART strike. Key word: temporarily.