Q My wife and I commute together and try to do our part to reduce congestion on the roads and limit our environmental impact. We live in San Lorenzo and work in Redwood City; unfortunately, besides the Highway 92 toll plaza approach, our commute does not have a single carpool lane. With the improving economy in the Bay Area, our 23-mile commute is taking on average over an hour in the afternoon and slightly less in the morning.

I have read that they are going to study adding a carpool lane to Highway 101 in San Mateo County, which would substantially ease our commute. Any update on this?

Jordan Maxwell

San Lorenzo

A Sometimes a commuter's despair resonates deeply with me. I feel such sympathy for carpoolers with no carpool lanes. Keep going, Jordan.

Q My wife and I tried to buy our first house as close to work as possible a couple of years ago to reduce our commute. The closest we could afford was in San Lorenzo. Just getting eight miles closer to work, on the other side of the San Mateo Bridge, would have more than doubled the cost of a home.

We find ourselves not driving much on weekends because we are tired from all the driving during the week. When I was growing up, my mom commuted from Antioch to Redwood City, and I decided long ago that I did not want that life for myself.


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I have many more commute years ahead of me, as I am 29. Is the 101 carpool still being talked about?

Jordan Maxwell

A Yes, but nothing is imminent. San Mateo County is considering converting its network of auxiliary lanes on 101 into carpool lanes from Whipple Avenue to near Interstate 380. The study is just beginning, and a carpool lane is many years away at best. This would keep four lanes open for solo drivers.

The environmental group TransForm has another idea: Convert the current fast lane into a carpool lane. It could be as much as $160 million less expensive and could be accomplished fairly quickly. However, Caltrans has avoided converting existing lanes into carpool lanes since 1976, when carpool lanes on Highway 10 in Santa Monica were used less than expected and led to a huge public outcry.

Toll lane conversions were banned in 2009 by state legislators and can be installed only on freeways where carpool lanes already exist.

Q And what about a new bridge across the bay?

Jordan Maxwell

A In 2000, Sen. Dianne Feinstein revived the "Southern Crossing" proposal, saying that a study of an alternative bay crossing "must be undertaken promptly." But the Metropolitan Transportation Commission concluded that it would cost at least $8.2 billion at that time to build a bridge from Interstate 238 in Hayward to I-380 in San Bruno. The idea has since been shelved.

Q Have you had any explanation from Caltrans why the carpool hours on freeways end at 9 a.m.? The other day I had a need to carpool to San Jose, and traffic on 101 was a parking lot at 9:15. Can you rattle cages at Caltrans and get them to join 2014?

Gary Lindsay

Berkeley

A Someday diamond lane hours will be expanded, perhaps when 101 and I-80 have express lanes.

Look for Gary Richards at Facebook.com/mr.roadshow, follow him at Twitter.com/mrroadshow or contact him at mrroadshow@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5335.