Q I have noticed a large sign westbound between Interstate 80 and the connector ramp for Highway 4. What project is coming up there? I can't find any information on it. In addition to the sign on 80, there have been small, solar-powered, digital boards put up on both the east and west sides of San Pablo on either side of the Highway 4 entrance referencing something about I-80, but the sign is mostly covered up.
A You're not the only one curious.
Q There are orange detour signs up all over El Sobrante and Pinole roads for Interstate 80. Is this the start of the San Pablo Dam Road exit construction? I can't find anything on the Caltrans website. Do they have a start date? As I use that entrance/exit at least twice a day, I'd like to know when it's going to start. It may just be time to retire!
A Hold off on that retirement, for most of the work will occur at night. Construction is about to begin in earnest on improving I-80 -- adding sensors, linking ramp metering to the flow of freeway traffic, adding carpool bypass at onramps, posting variable advisory speed limit notices and coordinating traffic signals on local streets. This will take a couple of years, and K-rail barriers could slow the commute, but ramps will not be closed during the day.
Go to www.dot.ca.gov/dist4/projects/80icm for details.
Q Can you explain why all of a sudden there are several green-and-white freeway signs on El Camino Real in Burlingame and San Mateo? They are on both sides of the street and simply say "101" or "101 South" and they are not directional. It's as though the sign installer got lost!
A This is part of the San Mateo County Smart Corridor Project to install cameras, signs, system detectors and wiring to connect 250 signals between El Camino and 101 along a 14-mile stretch. It will connect Caltrans lights with those controlled by local agencies from San Bruno to Redwood City between El Camino and 101.
The purpose of this project is provide a traffic management tool and communication system to better manage local traffic in the event of a major incident along 101. This traffic management tool may have day-to-day and special events benefits as well.
The signs are associated with this $5.4 million project. Some are paired with electronic signs and others are basic directional signs. If there is an incident on 101, freeway traffic can be detoured around the area. The electronic signs will turn on and direct drivers to go straight, right or left to get back to 101.
Go to www.dot.ca.gov/dist4/projects/smsmartcorridor for more details.
Q With the current construction project on Interstate 580 through Livermore, Pleasanton and Dublin, the lanes are very inconsistent, with several jogs to the right and left with little or no warning. I was happy to see the speed limit lowered to 55 mph because of this. But the 55 signs are hard to see from the two fast lanes, as another reader mentioned last week. Truck traffic blocks the view of the right shoulder, where the 55 signs are. Could Caltrans mount some signs on posts already in the center divide? This area is one to avoid every day at all hours.
A Caltrans has had a change of heart. State officials now say they will reconsider posting the lower speed-limit signs in the median, after first saying that was unlikely. This may be easier eastbound than westbound because of the need to widen the westbound direction, but more 55 mph signs could be added in both directions where possible.
Q Just a follow-up on my wife's FasTrak ticket on I-680. The day my letter was in your column, my wife, Dallas, got her courtesy notice from the courts. Even though her ticket had the "correctable violation" box checked and it clearly says in the officer's writing that the ticket was for not having the FasTrak transponder attached to the windshield, the box on the courtesy notice was marked "NA." Her only choice was to pay a $238 fine or pay $238 and get a court date.
My wife had already gotten her ticket signed off, and her son is a sheriff's deputy (who also thinks this was a bogus ticket). So my wife with her ticket in hand and a copy of her FasTrak statement showing she had paid the toll only seven minutes earlier went to the courthouse thinking it was a mistake. The clerk there was really nice, but said the officer made a mistake by putting the violation of avoiding a toll, which is not a correctable violation.
Her only option is to go to court, and I can only see two possible ways of this turning out: The officer won't show up, or if he does and is honest, he will admit that he meant for this to be a fix-it ticket. I will let you know how the court date goes.
A You better. Dallas was initially told she had to have her transponder attached to her windshield, but she had instead laid it on her dashboard and was ticketed for that reason. That ignited a howl of protests from FasTrak users and a second look by the CHP, which concluded that transponders don't have to be attached to windshields.