Q Hi Gary, me again (I emailed you first in like 1997; that's terrifying!). Can you shed light on what the Valley Transportation Authority is thinking with its Highway 85 toll lane project?
First off, 85 does need additional capacity; that isn't an issue. What is an issue, though, is that in the past 5 to 6 years the biggest problem on 85 is northbound from 280 to 237. The backup for getting onto 280 regularly extends well onto 85, typically past the Stevens Creek exit. In addition, traffic on 85 comes to a stop just past or on the 280 overpass.
Imagine what's going to happen after 2016, when the toll lanes could be in. Now you have an entire additional lane of traffic disgorging cars at 85/280, which is already hideously overloaded.
In short, the absolute worst part of the 85 corridor may get even worse. Improving 85 south of 280 without improving the 85/280 interchange and 85 north of 280 is a recipe for absolute disaster. Please tell me I'm wrong!
A I hope you are wrong. No, I pray you are wrong.
The VTA wants to convert the carpool lanes on 85 to express lanes and add a second carpool lane between I-280 and Highway 87. Carpoolers and motorcyclists would ride for free while solo drivers with FasTrak would pay a toll to use these lanes.
The agency knows 85 at 280 could be a challenge and plans on building an auxiliary lane between De Anza Boulevard and Stevens Creek Boulevard to ease merging woes. And the entrance/exit for the express lane will be longer than normal in this area to allow more distance for traffic to get over and into the queue for I-280.
Two meetings will be held this week in San Jose from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. to discuss these plans. One is Tuesday at the Calabazas Branch Library, 1230 S. Blaney Avenue, and the other is Thursday at the Cambrian Branch Library, 1780 Hillsdale Avenue. Go to www.vta.org/expresslanes for more details.
Q There have been a lot of "No Parking" signs installed at the bottom of the stairway at Communications Hill in San Jose. Is this because neighbors are tired of all the people using the stairs as an exercise location?
A You guessed right. The "No Parking and Stopping" signs at the bottom and top of the staircase at Communications Hill off Highway 87 were installed because of the excessive amount of parking, traffic and congregating occurring at all hours of the day and night. The stairs and trails were designed for neighborhood residents and the community at large to move in and around the neighborhood and not to be a regional fitness facility, said Joe-the-City-Parking-Man: "The unrestricted parking at the bottom and top of the staircase may have encouraged use of the staircase in that way."
Q The overpass on Stevens Creek Boulevard over Highway 85 in Cupertino has been resurfaced but the turn lane markings have not been repainted. This causes near-accidents because it appears that the double left-turn lane to enter 85 south extends to the double left-turn lanes 50 feet or so further on for Bubb Road.
A We can't have that. Caltrans will be out this week to fix this.