Q Why doesn't the CHP prohibit the display of banners, flag-waving and other exhibitions from the Highway 24 overpasses? These displays severely disrupt the flow of traffic and are clearly a hazard that could cause accidents. As a note to the flag-wavers, I personally find nothing patriotic about adding an extra hour of stop-and-go traffic to the evening commute of tens of thousands of people.

Dennis Laduzinsky

Pleasant Hill

A Has it really been that distracting?

Q Last Thursday evening two people with American flags and a large banner with writing too small to actually read were facing eastbound traffic at the El Curtola Boulevard overpass in Walnut Creek. The last thing I want to do at that point is slow down and take my eyes off the road long enough to try and read the banner and become part of the problem, so I don't know what the banner even said. I just know that I, and a lot of other people, suffered through an hour of stop-and-go traffic all the way back through the Caldecott Tunnel.

The more common times for such displays are on any Sept. 11 and Election Day. I'm assuming we'll see some political banners Wednesday for the first presidential debate.


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Dennis Laduzinsky

A You very well may. Several years ago after anti-war banners were hung along Highway 17, Caltrans decided to bar all banners, including the U.S. flag, from being posted on highway overpasses and along roadsides. The state receives numerous complaints that such signs are a distraction. Many banners easily unravel and become a hazard.

But this is a hard one to enforce when they are being held by people on an overpass. They are usually being held during commute times when the CHP is stretched thin.

Q Four years ago almost every single Prius had a bumper sticker for Obama. I did see one in 2008 with a McCain sticker, but I believe that came from an alternate universe.

But this season, I have not seen a single Obama 2012 bumper sticker on a Prius. What is going on? Have Prius owners become apolitical? Or, have they become timid Republicans too scared to slap on a Romney sticker? What is your opinion? Why no Obama stickers on Prius cars this election season?

Scott Carr

Palo Alto

A I've seen a few Obama stickers, but have only seen one Romney-Ryan sticker -- on a big, honkin' SUV.

My opinion: Obama brought so much hope to the 2008 campaign after eight years of economic policies that had us at the brink of a depression. Obama helped avoid that, but the economy under his watch has improved only slightly, and both Prius and non-Prius owners realize how much work remains.

Q Please look into why one of the cash lanes is closed every weekday morning on the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge. The backup has been reaching as far back as the Castro Street onramp by about 7:15 a.m. I was hoping delays would lessen after back-to-school traffic settled into a pattern, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Although FasTrak lanes move well, it's getting trickier to get over to those lanes if entering at Castro.

I tried looking on Caltrans' website to send an inquiry but couldn't locate any place to do so. Figured with your connections, you might be able to get some answers -- and maybe even some action!

Janet Cerni

A Caltrans says that because of limited resources it has been unable to staff the No. 4 toll booth between 7 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. But your plea will lead to a change. To help improve the morning commute, the No. 4 booth will be open between 7 a.m. and 7:30 a.m., when traffic is heavy, then closed from 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. The state hopes to add more toll takers soon to keep this booth open during the entire morning drive.

Q Please help us. Traveling west on Interstate 80 and going through the toll booth at the Carquinez Bridge is very dangerous if you have FasTrak and want to get off at the Highway 29/Sonoma exit without visiting a toll person. Currently the lane to use is in the middle and you need to veer diagonally across in front of other lanes to exit, and there isn't much time to cut through the traffic before the exit.

As you are looking over your shoulder to judge the cars passing, you are not paying attention to the cars in front of you who might be stopping because of a problem. It is especially dangerous because the closest lane is for carpoolers and folks are passing through without hesitating and not expecting anyone to veer in front of them to get over to the exit.

A solution would be to have the furthest right lane be for FasTrak users only who don't need to pay money. You could really help residents here if you can make them accommodate this.

Kim Evans

Vallejo

A I tried but failed to get a FasTrak-only lane on the far right. But here is what you can do. FasTrak folks can go through any lane, and bridge officials suggest that if you feel the merge from lane No. 4 is unsafe, use lane 11 or lane 12, which are farthest to the right and on the side of the Highway 29 exit ramp.

Q Seen among the trees and shrubbery in the center median of southbound Almaden Expressway: a number of yellow-colored metal signs, maybe two feet high, with the letters "FOPB" displayed on them. I've wondered about these signs, and I'm reasonably certain they weren't put there by the Friends of Paul Bunyan. Any idea?

Chris Rackowski

San Jose

A It stands for Fiber Optics Pacific Bell, and it identifies boxes that have fiber cable running through them. Maybe Paul Bunyan was the CEO at one time.

Q I want to draw attention to a potential hazard involving signs at the junction of Hamilton Avenue and Campbell Avenue in the Westgate area of San Jose. Traffic traveling west on Hamilton can make a left turn at the light just before the merge of the two roads to go east on Campbell. When you make the left turn, you enter a short ramp which merges into the fast lane of Campbell Avenue.

There are two problems: One, as you are driving east along Campbell, there is no sign on Campbell to warn of the upcoming merging lane, nor an indication of who has the right of way. Secondly, there is a merging sign on this short ramp, but it is wrong (I assume). It indicates with the size of the arrows shown and lack of the word "Yield" that the merging lane has priority, which I doubt is what is intended.

I travel through this intersection often, and frequently have seen cars believing the sign on the merging lane gives them priority and not yielding to traffic traveling along Campbell. This results in much swerving and horn blowing, and eventually I'm sure will precipitate an accident. Can you talk to whoever is responsible for road signs in that area?

Dave Winn

A I did, and changes are coming by the end of the month. This is indeed a merge and not a yield situation. To make that clear, San Jose will replace the existing sign with one to show the merge more clearly. The city will also evaluate traffic after the new sign goes in, and if necessary, install an additional sign on the West Campbell Avenue side or install merging arrows on the pavement.

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