Q I hope you can help here. There's a stretch of Interstate 880 through Oakland that is marked as 45 mph. Since I'm a law-abiding citizen, I go 45. And I'm scared to death! Drivers are going at least 20 mph faster than I am, and I feel very, very unsafe. Why would Caltrans post such a low speed limit that is totally ignored? And what are my choices in dealing with this?
A Pray. Caltrans and the CHP agreed to lower the speed limit to 45 during work on the Fifth Avenue seismic project because of reduced lane widths, heavy truck traffic, adjacent construction work and numerous temporary alignments of the road during construction.
Work should end late this year, and the speed limit then will be raised to 55 or 65. The new structure will be 46 feet wider and will provide space for 10- to 12-foot shoulders plus a southbound auxiliary lane that will make it easier to merge onto I-880 from Fifth Street.
Q Here's a question I've been thinking about since the fourth bore of the Caldecott Tunnel opened.
I commute opposite the peak direction on Highway 24. Prior to the opening of the new bore, I was stuck in a lot of traffic and generally rolled through my commute at anywhere from 10 to 40 mph. I always tried to minimize my braking, but obviously several times daily I'd need to brake.
Now I practically fly during my commute, accelerating up the steep grades at 65-70 mph. Under which scenario should I get better mileage? Yes, I know the most ideal speed for gas mileage is 55 mph, but I'd get run over if I went that speed.
A Steve-the-AAA-Auto-Man says, "A constant, steady speed is always better for gas mileage, regardless of speed. Continued braking results in the engine slowing its RPMs and raising them over and over, which burns more fuel."
Q I have driven the stretch of Interstate 680 from Monument Boulevard in Pleasant Hill to Willow Pass Road in Pleasant Hill for more than 15 years and it has never been repaved in that time frame. Yet I-680 both north and south of this stretch has been repaved more than once in each direction.
I have found this to be one of the most difficult stretches to drive in the state because of the way the road is curved and the seams of the cement running crisscross under the traffic. Why doesn't this stretch get repaved or repaired by Caltrans?
A Caltrans did repair some concrete slabs and says the ride is pretty good. However, there is a section northbound at Monument that has dropped because of an abandoned drainpipe; it will be repaired next year. And this area will be re-striped any day in both directions, which may help.
Q Would you please find out what BART's plans are for the Walnut Creek parking lot during construction of the BART village project? I've reviewed documents for that project and don't find any details. Just vague promises for alternate parking locations. I sent emails to BART and got zero response.
A Once construction begins on the parking garage (which is the first phase of the transit village), about 100 surface parking spaces will no longer be available. BART is considering its alternatives to replacing that parking, but no final decision has been reached. The parking garage, once completed, will add 851 parking spaces at the station.
Q Quick favor: Could you have the powers that be look at the timing of the lights on Tully Road from about King to Senter and coordinate it with the offramps from Highway 101? Traffic is not able to clear the offramp and it backs up onto 101, creating a hazardous situation as the vehicles in the exit lane are stationary, while the rest of 101 can be moving at speed.
Actually, Tully is a mess on weekends as well, but that's another story.
A Tully can be a mess for certain, but hope is on the horizon. The city and Caltrans are working to modify one of the ramp locations. When that is done, the city will coordinate these signals and they should be working better in a few months.
Q There was work done on Blossom Hill Road in San Jose between Santa Teresa Boulevard and Blossom Avenue during December. Can you please tell me what work was done? I travel that road every day, and all I know is that they covered it with pebbles, then after a couple of weeks, swept the pebbles away. There was no new repaving done, and the road is still so bumpy, especially the block in front of Marie Callender's.
Also, the repainting of the lanes is the worse paint job around. The stripes do not have clean edges like normal, so the paint kind of bleeds. I sure hope the city did not pay for this job, because if it did, they got ripped off.
A No repaving was done. Instead, the city performed a slurry seal application to extend the life of the pavement by providing a new top surface and preserving the original asphalt concrete roadway. While there are areas of the road that are not completely smooth, the city says the pavement is in overall good condition and did not need to be completely repaved.
The slurry seal application did come loose because of colder weather when the work was performed. But crews went ahead despite the weather because they didn't want to stop over the winter and risk further deterioration of the street, which would have cost more to fix next year. The city will continue to monitor the street and do any touch-up that is needed this spring or summer.
Regarding the striping, the edges are not as razor sharp as some paint applications. They used a heavier plastic-type material that will last longer than normal water-based paint.
CAR SEAT EVENT: Safety officials estimate that the vast majority of car seats are installed improperly. On Saturday, the California Highway Patrol will host a free car seat inspection from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Capitol Expressway Chevrolet, 905 Capitol Expressway, San Jose. Call 408-467-5400 to make an appointment, which is required.