Q I am amazed and pleased at the progress being made as the Route 4 widening and eBART projects seem to be moving along rather steadily eastward toward Route 160. What will the final eBART alignment be from the median of Route 4 to the terminus station/maintenance complex being constructed north of the Highway 4 right of way? Will the route stay in the median as far east as Hillcrest and then transition to the new station area? Or will it divert off the median before the Railroad Avenue interchange?
A The eBART is a new type of train, run on diesel, that is smaller and is as much as 60 percent cheaper to build than conventional BART.
The eBART trains will use the median of Highway 4 to the Hillcrest area. The station will have a center platform similar to the Lafayette and Orinda stations. The $462 million project will run from the Pittsburg/Bay Point station, and trains could be running in late 2017.
Q A secondary question: Will eBART be built to BART track gauge, which is wider than standard railroad gauge, thus permitting real BART to eventually use this route?
A No. But officials say down the line it could change the width to meet BART needs.
Q In the recent heavy storms Highway 24 eastbound just east of the Caldecott Tunnel flooded with water again, as usual. Any word on plans to remedy this?
A Caltrans has checked all the drains in this area and found them clean and operating correctly. But Bill-the-Caltrans-Pavement-Watcher said, "Sometimes when we get a heavy rain in a short period of time we will get some water sheeting in the lanes. Everyone should slow down and be very cautious during these heavy downpours."
Q I have a question on a bridge that currently is a bridge to nowhere. On the west side of Highway 84/Isabel Avenue in Livermore just north of the railroad crossing, there is a bridge which does not seem to have any connections. There is no road connecting this bridge on either end. Do you know why this well-built bridge is there?
A Yep, and you'll see the result this summer. Isabel Avenue crosses over the Arroyo Mocho Creek on a bridge just north of the rail crossing. This bridge is being widened on the west side to accommodate the widening of Isabel from two to six lanes in this area, and work should be completed in a few months.
Q I see every tree from El Camino Real through Homestead Road tagged for apparent removal. Is the widening of San Tomas Expressway to eight lanes finally starting?
A Sort of. The expressway widening will be minimal, about 5 feet mostly, but the transition from three to four lanes will move from south of El Camino to south of Homestead. This is as far as the county can go with current funds, but at some point the intention will be to continue four lanes south to at least Stevens Creek Boulevard. Work could be underway this fall.
In addition, work on the bike trail from El Camino to Homestead is also under way.
This is the usual backup spot for San Tomas and has been for many years, with morning commute traffic often backing up from El Camino to Saratoga.
You can take part in an online survey about what improvements you'd like to see in the expressway system. The survey will be open until the end of April. Go to http://fluidsurveys.com/s/FM3-SCCGWeb/ or www.expressways.info.
Q Will they be removing trees along San Tomas Expressway? If so, why?
A Yes, as the county widens the expressway, expands the bike trail and installs taller sound walls, about 280 trees will be removed. An undetermined number will be replaced in residents' back yards.
Q As part of preparations for the new 49ers stadium, will the VTA be changing the light rail transfer station from the Tasman station to the Baypointe station?
The Baypointe station is quite large and is fully covered. The Tasman station is smaller and has less cover. Given the large number of expected passengers, I wonder if the Tasman station could handle all the people trying to transfer trains.
I know at one point the Baypointe station was the transfer station for the various light rail lines, but then the VTA changed it to the Tasman station. Why was that?
A The Baypointe station was used before the VTA had train service to Alum Rock. Once that service started, there were trains coming up First Street toward both Mountain View and Alum Rock, and the transfers could no longer be made at Baypointe. For the stadium service, there will be direct trains from both Alum Rock and Santa Teresa, which should lessen the need for transfers at Tasman.