Q I drive the 101/880 interchange, and since the opening of the carpool lanes on Interstate 880 near Brokaw Road a few weeks ago, there's been a change that is dangerous. Traffic on northbound 101 to the south 880 ramp now needs to merge into an existing south 880 to south 101 exit lane. But there are no signs indicating this, and it is quite abrupt. Is this just a temporary solution? If not, could some short merge signs be added? ... Gary, I almost got creamed here. ... Mr. Roadshow, we really need help.
Ben Charnota, Jim Grishaw, and many more
A It likely is permanent. Caltrans purposely re-striped this area to reduce weaving and thinks the change will reduce the number of accidents once drivers get accustomed to the new merge. Said Bernie-the-Caltrans-Man:
"Drivers might have some issues with the new configuration because they have to be a little more cautious. The striping is per our standards and the sight distance from south 880 is more than adequate to see a vehicle coming up the ramp. We have this type of striping and merging at thousands of locations throughout the state."
And, he added: "I personally drive that area two days per week and I notice people trying to cut over immediately as opposed to entering the lane at the appropriate point. ... But, unless this interchange is totally reconfigured with flyovers similar to 101/280/680, nothing we do is going to be a perfect solution."
The state will monitor the area for a few weeks and then determine if more changes are needed. Signs may be installed to alert everyone of the new situation.
Q Recently, you answered a question about the solo driver who was ticketed on eastbound Central Expressway, just before De La Cruz Boulevard. There is a similar situation I run into on southbound Lawrence Expressway between 101 and Central. The carpool lane doesn't begin until Oakmead, presumably to allow room for cars exiting 101 and preventing backups.
At that point, drivers who need to exit to eastbound Central are not allowed to legally re-enter that lane until one light later at Arques Avenue. However, between Arques and the eastbound Central onramp, there are a few places where cars are trying to enter Lawrence, in a very short distance (about 1/4 mile): Arques, the corner gas station, and Miraloma (which includes westbound Central traffic).
Navigating this mix of cars trying enter this lane or trying to guess if someone will pull out or not is quite harrowing and dangerous.
A You have any ideas?
Q Here's my solution: Simply eliminate the carpool requirement between Arques and Oakmead. It only reduces the carpool lane by one block, but gives solo drivers more time to get into position safely to exit Lawrence. It also saves them from an additional lane change before Oakmead.
What do you think?
A Well, unlikely. But the county is now beginning a study of how to ease conditions between Reed/Monroe Streets and Arques and will roll your thoughts into the public comments already received. Go to www.countyroads.org to learn more.
Q Gary, you wrote about the carpool mess on Central Expressway near De La Cruz a few weeks ago. Any chance there will be changes there?
A Yep. The county may put up new signs and install pavement markings indicating that the No. 2 lane on Central will take you to both northbound and southbound 101. These markings will be installed after and before the railroad bridge.
Also, the existing through and right turn arrow in the No. 2 lane on De La Cruz is faded and will be repainted. And crews will install a second right and through arrow legend on De La Cruz about 50 feet past the intersection eastbound.
Contact Gary Richards at firstname.lastname@example.org or 408-920-5335. To read columns online, go to www.mercurynews.com/mr-roadshow or use the main navigational bar under Opinion-Columns or at www.mercurynews.com/traffic.