Q In a recent column you responded to a query about alternating white and black lane striping as a means of enhancing contrast on light-colored pavement such as concrete to increase contrast and thus visibility. Any chance you can get your buddies at Caltrans to apply that technique on Interstate 280 between Saratoga Avenue and downtown San Jose?
Between the lane striping and Botts' dots being long overdue for renewal, glare (especially during early morning and evening hours) from the concrete after the grinding of the surface a few years back, and the fact that the paved lanes no longer line up with the striping since the widening of I-280 over 20 years ago, keeping in one's lane has become a difficult task on that segment of road since the lanes are hard to see.
A This has been a big complaint for almost 20 years and Caltrans has plans to fix this late next month.
Q I have traveled northbound 280, exiting at Lawrence Expressway for more years than I can count. The sweeping blind curve of the exit lane has caused me anxiety more times than not. I have almost been rear-ended and have assisted hurt drivers in a multicar accident I witnessed. While sailing along at 60-plus-mph, drivers are not aware that traffic in front of them has stopped. All of a sudden. BAM! Another accident.
I have a simple solution. Look for the skid marks and place a sign before them saying "Watch for stopped vehicles." A few of those signs on that sweeping curve surely wouldn't hurt. Can you use your almighty powers to see if the state can add a few signs?
A Caltrans agrees and will install a "WATCH FOR STOPPED TRAFFIC" sign on the left side of the ramp across from the existing "SCHOOL CROSSING" sign. It may take six months to get this done.
Q I drive the morning commute on Interstate 280 northbound quite often and approximately five years ago Toyota hired Green Road Media to place a large floral ad on 280 just south of Winchester Boulevard. At the time it looked nice, albeit it was hard to tell what it was.
Fast forward to 2014. There are no more flowers, just what appears to be a large torn-up area of weed control fabric. A video I found stated that Caltrans allowed Toyota and Green Road Media to "beautify" the freeway. Well, not so much anymore. Who is responsible for the cleanup? Toyota? Green Road? Caltrans?
Plain dirt would look much better than what is there now.
A This has to be one of the dumbest experiments ever. The idea was that Green Media would plant and pay for the image of a Prius on the hill for landscaping purposes here and in a few other locations statewide. But the colorful 53-by-26-foot floral mosaic of pansies, marigolds and alyssum left motorists gawking and baffled.
Eventually, the flowers were left to die and all that remains is blackened earth. There is no rush to replant the area, but in time new growth will cover up the scar that remains.
Q There are signs in Morgan Hill which say the Highway 101 ramp at East Dunne Avenue will be closed overnight through September. Do you know what is going on?
A Caltrans is widening 17 ramps and adding metering lights from Highway 25 to Highway 85, installing 22 closed-circuit television cameras to monitor traffic and adding 61 maintenance and CHP pullouts. Work begins this week.
Q When is Caltrans going to realize they need to re-illuminate the two eastbound lanes of the Caldecott Tunnel as they have done in the new fourth bore?
A Many others are asking the same question.
Q I recently drove through the Caldecott Tunnel from the west, and went from bright sunshine into a near darkness. The lighting change startled me and for just a second I thought of hitting the brakes. ... I don't expect the old tunnels to get a major overhaul but upgraded lighting would be very beneficial. ... Coming out of the dark tunnel, the daylight is blinding.
Don Woodrow, Anne Jacobson, Jean Hall and so many more
A We shall all see the light in the tunnel soon. The lighting issue is due to the realignment and other work on the Caldecott fourth bore project that is now finishing up. Caltrans must first remove the photo sensors in each of the bores, sensors that automatically adjust tunnel lighting to enable an easy transition from daylight to the darkness of the tunnel.
The new sensors will be reinstalled in the near future. In the meantime, tunnel operators are manually adjusting the lighting.
Q I was totally shocked to hear that during this really bad drought Caltrans is scheduled to wash the Webster and Posey tubes. The tubes haven't been washed in many years and they decided to do it now? What could possibility be their reason to waste water doing that?
A Here's why: The National Fire Protection Association and the Caltrans maintenance manual rules that certain functions be performed on tunnels and tubes in California to provide fire protection and meet other safety requirements. Diesel truck and vehicle exhaust sticks to tile walls and causes low illumination as well as complaints from motorists. Washing the tunnels and tubes creates better illumination for drivers and stops bacteria growth. The normal washing schedule for tunnels and tubes in the Bay Area is three or four times a year, but during the terrible drought Caltrans is down to washing twice a year.
In addition, water usage for washing in the tunnels and tubes has been reduced by 50 percent per wash cycle, says Caltrans.
Q A few weeks ago we returned from a weekend jaunt to Truckee. Coming down the hill on Interstate 80 between Truckee and Colfax, there were SWARMS of CHP vehicles. At one point we saw two CHP SUVs and a CHP motorcycle simultaneously ticketing vehicles going perhaps 70 mph in a 65 zone. Not exactly egregious speeders.
Continuing west on I-80, between Colfax and Roseville, where there was a lot more traffic, we saw no CHP vehicles. We did see several packs of young men on crotch rockets racing each other in excess of 100 mph, weaving in and out of traffic in a most dangerous manner. In my tiny convertible with the top down, going with the flow of traffic at 65-70 mph, I could only pray that they wouldn't do something excessively stupid and kill me and my husband in the process.
There was another group of senior motorcyclists riding in a safe and sane manner, and you just knew they were thinking, "These yahoos are giving us all a bad name."
How does the CHP decide where it's going to patrol? Because they certainly were in the wrong place and chasing the wrong people.
A This is the time of summer that the CHP often saturates sections of I-80. They'll focus on areas where they get the most speeding complaints and where most crashes occur.