Q I feel like the entire state of California is under construction. There are K-rails everywhere, and Caltrans has adopted a policy of putting them RIGHT on the fog line. In some spots, they are on both sides, and there is no wiggle room. Even in my tiny car, I feel like Luke Skywalker in his X-wing fighter when he made the trench run on the Death Star.
A Now that is scary.
Q I get on Interstate 580 westbound at Isabel Avenue in heavy commute traffic in Livermore. Each morning I have to "thread the needle" in one of those spots with K-rails on both sides. Compounding the problem:
First, my car sits very low, so I can't see over the K-rail on the left to glance at traffic I'm merging into.
Second, imagine if I were in a large truck going through that narrow passage looking over my left shoulder to gauge traffic, at the same time worrying about scraping my vehicle against K-rail on the right.
Third, I'm entering the freeway in an auxiliary lane that exits to Airway Boulevard, and it is very short. There's really not much time at all to move over to the left before you're forced to exit the freeway. Remember that you're doing all this at highway speed.
I know the construction speed limit is 55 mph, but I can tell you that people are routinely going 70 in that area, and there's no CHP enforcement that I can see. Obviously you have to enter the freeway and merge at the same speed as the rest of traffic. Suffice it to say that the area is a hot mess.
I don't see any actual work being done there. Is it really necessary to have the K-rails right on the fog line? There's no room for error or maneuverability.
A Caltrans says the barriers must be positioned where they are to protect truckers, workers and motorists. Is it a mess? Most construction zones are. Just check out Interstate 880 next to the Valley Fair shopping center in San Jose, Highway 101 from Mountain View to Palo Alto, Interstate 880 through the East Bay and Highway 24 in Contra Costa County.
Q How much longer will we have to deal with this on 580? And what are they doing there, anyway?
A There are three projects underway -- installing carpool lanes and auxiliary lanes, widening the existing roadway and bridges, pavement rehabilitation and construction of retaining walls in Livermore and Dublin/Pleasanton from westbound I-580 to west of Greenville Road, and eastbound I-580 from west of Hacienda Drive to east of Greenville Road.
They are all expected to be completed by the late summer of 2015, but the K-rails will be removed as Caltrans completes phases of construction this summer.
Q You mentioned that there was a meeting a couple of weeks back discussing Lawrence Expressway. Was there an outcome to the discussions that you know of?
A Santa Clara County will unveil its likely plans Monday at Briarwood Elementary School in Santa Clara, 1930 Townsend Ave., from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. They call for sinking some of the expressway between Reed Avenue and Arques Avenue and building overpasses and ramps to handle turning traffic. Go to http://LawrenceExpressway.CountyRoads.org for more.