Q When I got on Interstate 880 from Interstate 980 on Wednesday, I noticed a huge line of several dozen police vehicles with lights blinking, blocking the Oak Street onramp. Then every onramp until Highway 238 was similarly blocked for the funeral in Castro Valley for the BART police officer killed in a friendly-fire accident.
Who pays for shutting down I-880 and this incredible police presence? What is the justification for essentially shutting down the freeway and disrupting thousands of commuters? We need to respect the sacrifice our peace officers make, but they need to respect the taxpayers.
A I always wrestle with questions like this. Any police officer funeral can result in a massive traffic problem, and we need to be patient if stuck in that traffic.
Law enforcement agencies that provided police services during the funeral of BART police Sgt. Tom Smith Jr. paid for it out of their budgets, a BART official said. The public cost is minimal, as typically all the involved agencies donate their time for the services for a fallen officer.
"I certainly understand Mr. Lindsay's frustration at being delayed. But there's a good chance that things will go better tomorrow and that Mr. Lindsay will get over it. For Sgt. Smith, there will be no more tomorrows."
Q On Jan. 21, the CHP closed Highway 17 about 5:30 p.m. to retrieve a car and the body of the driver who had gone over the edge of 17 on Sunday but who was not discovered until that Tuesday. The CHP closed the highway from 5:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. so they could retrieve the car.
Not to be rude but if the car had been there since Sunday, why couldn't the CHP wait a couple more hours until after rush hour? Why do they have to disrupt others' lives like this?
A Chris-the-CHP-Man said the decision to close a lane is not taken lightly.
"As Highway Patrol officers, we know all too well the disruption that will occur when we close a lane of a freeway, whether during the commute or middle of the night. But we will not and cannot just wait to recover the body of an accident victim. Even if we were to wait as suggested, we still would have the number two lane closed for emergency vehicles, as we would legally need to remain on the scene."
He added: "We are talking about commuters having their lives disrupted for four hours, whereas the family of the driver will have their lives disrupted for years to come. I would hope that readers who complained look at the bigger picture and realize how lucky they are that they made it home safely to their loved ones, because that day another commuter did not."
Q Traffic going home to Santa Cruz was terrible that night, partly because of work being done on the Santa Cruz side of 17. Why did they work on the same night the CHP closed 17 near Los Gatos?
A Caltrans says it is definitely possible to suspend work if needed and that there needs to be better communication between Caltrans and the CHP on issues like this.