Q The recent completion of the Highway 84 widening concludes the most incompetent road project, from planning to execution, that I've experienced. It must have been 5-6 years for a couple of miles worth. The parking lot, even on weekends, has now moved south for several more years. This all could have been avoided if the obvious need for more lanes had been planned for. What fool thought two lanes would suffice?
A Five to six years of planning? Hah! Try 20.
The widening of Highway 84 from Interstate 580 to Stanley Boulevard finished a few weeks ago, and the next phase could be done in two-plus years -- the widening to four lanes between Concannon Boulevard and Ruby Hills Drive. And then it'll be on to Interstate 680.
So I turn to Bob-a-Roadshow-Consultant. Says he:
"It is questions like this that makes professional transportation planners and engineers feel misunderstood and unappreciated. I would like to respond that this is not the conclusion of the project, but rather the motoring public will have to endure many more years of construction on Route 84 between I-580 and I-680.
"The next phase will widen Isabel Avenue between Concannon and Ruby Hills Drive from 2 to 4 lanes, starting in 2015. Future phases will widen 84 between Pigeon Pass and I-680, subject to passage of Measure B reauthorization in November. There is also a second phase planned for the I-580/Route 84-Isabel interchange.
"While I can empathize with the reader's frustration, he seems to want the project to be completed all at once. Unfortunately, due to the high cost (about $500 million for the entire corridor) and limited funding, the project had to be completed in phases. Otherwise, we would still be waiting for sufficient funds to accumulate and nothing would have been done."
Improvements along Route 84 were first considered in the 1960's when the Legislature identified 84 as a freeway or expressway corridor between I-580 and I-680. But it wasn't until the 1990's when Livermore took the lead to design and construct Isabel Avenue between Concannon and Jack London Boulevard with the goal of moving the state highway out of downtown.
But patience, a lot more of it, is needed.
Q When the toll takers go away, will it really be illegal to cross bridges without FasTrak? What about out-of-state visitors? What about a family coming down from Redding for a day in The City? ... How is that supposed to work? Will everyone driving into California be stopped at the border and issued a transponder?
Hal Silliman, Gary Brainin, Franklin Focks and many more
A No, I got it wrong in a recent column. Drivers without FasTrak will be able to use all bridges and use a similar format to pay the toll as is used on the Golden Gate which has no toll takers. You'll likely be able to pay online up to 30 days before crossing the bridge or within 48 hours after. On the Golden Gate, it is also possible to establish credit card based license plate account.
However, transponders will be needed at some future point for all drivers to use the carpool/express lanes such as on Interstate 680 down the Sunol Grade.