Q You said that the new Interstate 580 westbound toll lane will allow "merging in and out of the toll lane almost anywhere." I'm not a traffic engineer, but this sounds like a recipe for disaster. Won't people drive in the toll lane until just before the FasTrak readers, then quickly change lanes into the free lanes to avoid paying the toll? Of course, then they would change back into the toll lane until the next FasTrak reader.
A Your concern is legitimate, but plans are in place to reduce the temptation for drivers to do this.
First, traffic officials will announce this spring what the toll hours will be on 580, 80, 680 and 880. Most are likely to allow solo drivers with FasTrak to enter the express lane at any point, just like today's carpool lanes.
But at some locations entry and exit points will be restricted -- such as at the 580-680 interchange -- to reduce the amount of weaving.
In addition, express lanes without buffers will have more frequent readers that will make it difficult for people to avoid detection. Also, fees from solo vehicles will be collected by zones, meaning that if your tag is read once within a zone (roughly three to five miles) you will be charged the same amount as if it is read several times within the same zone. That should discourage moving in and out of the lane unnecessarily.
And white stripes will be wider -- eight inches instead of four.
Q I understand why Highway 37 cannot be widened, but is there ANY WAY to raise the height of the center divider 12 to 18 inches so that the blinding lights and glare of oncoming traffic can be reduced?
My wife has been a commuter on 37 since the "blood alley" days and reveled when the center divide went in. However, it quickly became apparent that the wall was just not high enough. The headlights of oncoming traffic are just above the existing height of the center divide and create a significant hazard for those traveling in the other direction. Multiply that by a factor of 1,000 when it is wet and rainy.
My wife is fortunate in that she travels 37 in the reverse commute direction; that being said, she is also at greater risk in the afternoons and evenings because of the long and steady stream of commuter traffic traveling east. I know one dedicated kindergarten teacher who would be very pleased if she at least knew that someone was looking at getting something done.
A I wish I had better news. Caltrans says to increase the height of the concrete barrier, it would need to remove the existing barrier and build a new, taller one. That, says the state, would be very expensive and cause a lot of disruption to traffic. Plus, glare screens on top could reduce sight distance for drivers. So given this, replacing the barrier to ease glare is not likely at this time.
Q Yikes. They have narrowed the two-lane ramp from south Interstate 280 to north 880 down to one lane. I assume this is for the new interchange, but it likely will lead to massive morning and evening backups. How long will this be in place?
A Until late this year. Crews are starting to work on the new southbound 280 to northbound 880 ramp as well as exits to Stevens Creek Boulevard. The $62.1 million project is slated to be completed about this time next year.
Q Recently one of your readers asked you why additional turn lanes were added at the Great Oaks exit off Highway 85, and you mentioned it was because of some future development in the area. Do you know if that development is a new Costco on Great Oaks? We keep hearing rumors about that, but no confirmation. I know this really isn't traffic-related, but I was hoping you knew or could recommend a website that lists current/future development projects in San Jose.
A A Costco store is coming. The residential portion of the Hitachi Global Storage Technologies site is under construction between Cottle Road and Raleigh Road. Portions of the commercial/mixed-use project, including Target, have been built and are close to opening between Cottle and Charlotte Drive.
Q On Ashby Avenue-Highway 13 west of San Pablo Avenue, near the Orchard Supply Hardware entrance, there are old railroad tracks in the roadway, while the rest of that old rail line is for walking and bike paths. Why don't they remove the tracks? Also, that stretch has terrible pavement. What gives?
A Berkeley and Caltrans officials agree that the condition of Ashby Avenue from the Ashby-80 exit to San Pablo Avenue is in bad condition. A paving job is planned this summer, and that's when the old railroad tracks will be removed.