Q A couple of questions regarding Highway 17. Why did they only install the special nonslip paving treatment on the southbound lane at Laurel Curve and not northbound?

Doug Lang

Santa Cruz

A Laurel Curve had become the most dangerous location on Highway 17 and it was on the southbound side where the most crashes occurred -- from an average of 30 a year from 2009-2011 to one this past winter. The state added a median barrier to prevent southbound drivers from crossing head-on into the northbound lanes, and now it's testing what's called a high-friction surface to help southbound drivers avoid high-speed crashes. So far it seems to be working well.

There are no immediate plans to install a similar surface northbound, but it's possible after a longer period of analysis is complete. Next summer the northbound shoulder at Laurel will be widened five feet to make the turn less curvy.

Q As a 25-year veteran of commuting over Highway 17, I've got to say that the new yellow striping on the median barrier is a great safety idea. Problem is that it's only on the Santa Clara County side. Are there plans to add the yellow stripe to the barrier wall on the Santa Cruz side?

Doug Lang

A I saw these yellow markers after Mrs. Roadshow and I returned from a recent drive to the coast. They are positioned on the barrier near the top and are a great way to notice how close the barrier is.

They were added after a new barrier was installed in Santa Clara County, but are not on older barriers like those in Santa Cruz County. The state will study the impact of these markers, and if crashes drop, more could be installed on both sides.

Now, I have a story idea. Doug has commuted on Highway 17 for 25 years. How long have others had similar or longer commutes on 17 or other routes? Let me know and we can share what changes you have witnessed, good and bad.

Q About the Highway 1 merging lanes being constructed in Santa Cruz: I'm getting the sinking feeling as work is winding up that they are not going to connect the merging lane they are building near the La Fonda bridge to the previously built section from Morrissey Boulevard to Emeline Street. If they don't cut into and join with the Morrissey section, then this whole exercise in congestion reduction will be pointless. Please say it isn't so!

David Steinbruner

Aptos

A It is so. These are auxiliary lanes, which begin at an onramp and end at the next offramp but do not require the rebuilding of the interchange, so costs are lower. Auxiliary lanes can improve congestion by pulling the weaving and merging traffic out of the through lanes.

Interstate 680  near Mission Boulevard, Fremont. (Karen T. Borchers/Mercury News)
Interstate 680 near Mission Boulevard, Fremont. (Karen T. Borchers/Mercury News)

Q The Mercury News should give you a very big raise.

Michael Paccioretti

San Jose

A You have my attention. Why is that?

Q I and several others emailed you concerning the roller coaster dip between Scott Creek Road and Mission Boulevard in Fremont on I-680. I traveled up I-680 the other day and started slowing down for the dip and it was gone. Caltrans fixed the dip and I hope it will stay fixed.

Michael Paccioretti

A Boss, you reading this?

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