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Gilman near Interstate 80, Berkeley

Q Berkeley's Gilman Street is a major path to Interstate 80 and one of the streets that leads to the Golden Gate racetrack. No stoplights. Only stop signs and a first-come, first-served honor system manages traffic flow. Amazingly, there have been no major accidents or fatalities that I know of, but you sense driving through this car maze that it's just lurking in the shadows.

Why has there not been movement to set up a signal light system there? I travel there quite often for shopping, doctor's office, walking parks, etc., each time crossing the intersection with bated breath.

Please help.

Jim Guzzetta

El Sobrante

A I wish I could, but we need help from our legislators in Sacramento.

Q I am encouraged that studies are under way to add a northbound lane on Interstate 680 over the Sunol Grade, as I am sure so many others are.

Mary Rincon

Tracy

A I'm not.

Q Bring on more BART through the East Bay? I don't think so, now that Alameda County's sales tax for transportation failed to get the two-thirds vote required. What a shame.

J. Nielsen

Oakland

A This is frustrating. My back is aching today, so that's my excuse for turning cranky.

Sales tax proposals in Alameda County and Los Angeles County both failed because of state rules that special taxes need to win by a two-thirds margin. Voters in both counties came just a few hundred votes shy, and while a recount has been requested in Alameda County, anyone hoping that relief could be under way will likely have to wait many more years. Gilman Street, I-680 and East Bay BART improvements are now on hold.

The two-thirds margin needs to be lowered. It's ridiculous that roughly 3 in 10 no votes can defeat the wishes of nearly 7 of 10 voters.

Here's where the Legislature needs to jump in -- and put on the ballot a measure to lower the threshold to 55 or 60 percent. These county sales taxes have provided more than 50 percent of the money for road and rail improvements throughout the state since 1984, when Santa Clara County became the first to approve the spending of county funds to build state roads (highways 85, 101 and 237).

Look around. The gas tax won't be increased. Better mileage rates will lower the dollars that come in from the existing gas tax, and federal funds will likely be scaled back.

The alternatives are more toll lanes and county sales taxes.

This isn't only an East Bay issue. Commuters on these roads are headed to the South Bay, Peninsula and San Francisco. If we want to tax ourselves, so be it. But state voters should be asked if they want to level the playing field or remain at a two-thirds threshold.

And there is a chance, says Kurt-the-VTA-Legislative-Watcher:

"This has been something that has been talked about for quite some time. However, there hasn't been the possibility of getting the two-thirds vote in the Legislature that is needed to put it on the ballot because there weren't enough Republicans willing to go for it, and the stakeholder groups didn't believe they could raise the money it would take to both qualify it for the ballot and finance a campaign.

"With the Democrats on the cusp of having a two-thirds supermajority in both the Assembly and Senate, we may see a serious effort in the Legislature to put it on the ballot in 2014."

That's all I ask.

Q When I hear traffic reports about stalls, etc., on the freeways and they refer to lane one, two, three and four, I wonder: Is lane No. 1 the inner or fast lane or slow lane?

Cyndie Meagher

San Jose

A No. 1 is the fast or far left lane; No. 4 on a freeway with four lanes in one direction is the slow or far right lane. And if the sales tax rules are not relaxed, we all may be in the slow lane for a long time.

Follow Gary Richards at Twitter.com/mrroadshow, look for him at Facebook.com/mr.roadshow or contact him at mrroadshow@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5335. The fax number is 408-288-8060.