California Highway News: 4/1/2013 – 4/15/2013

userpic=roadgeekingWell, the gentle reminder from the IRS agent standing next to me can mean only one thing, that my taxes are due that it is time to bring another installment of highway headlines, this time for the first half of April:

  • Bay Bridge (I-80) Bolt Woes. A number of articles related to the woes of the Bay Bridge, I-80. On Tue, 4/2, it was reported that Caltrans tests cast down on the overly brittle support rods. This resulted in a report on Wed, 4/3, that Caltrans was going to recheck all the parts on the bridge that came from that manufacturer. The manufacturer’s evidence is being reexamined to see if they failed tests.
  • Willis Bypass (US 101) Protest Ends. Six people protesting a freeway bypass under construction in Mendocino County were arrested Tuesday after Caltrans crews cut down two pine trees in which some of them had been camping for weeks, officials said. California Highway Patrol officers fired several bean-bag projectile rounds at two of the protesters, and one of the protesters poured feces on CHP officers before Caltrans chopped down the tree in which they had been sitting, authorities said.
  • Petaluma Highway 101 bottleneck to get worse before getting better. The historically congested stretch of Highway 101 south of Petaluma is primed for work that eventually will widen the corridor and provide relief for what is known as the Novato Narrows bottleneck. But don’t get too excited, drivers. The $120 million project, which really is two projects at once, will take three years and include temporary lane closures that at times will squeeze traffic to one lane in each direction.
  • SLOCOG urges Caltrans to fix Hwy. 1 north of Cambria before June. A San Luis Obispo County transportation panel unanimously approved Wednesday pressuring Caltrans to quickly smooth out the pavement on 20 miles of Highway 1 north of Cambria, a roadway roughened by a resurfacing project late last year.
  • Will merging lanes ease I-680 congestion in San Ramon Valley? Contractors have begun a $32 million project to build new merge lanes along two miles of Interstate 680 between Danville and San Ramon. The lanes are meant to speed up traffic and make travel safer on the busy commute route. Before the new 12-foot-wide lanes are finished, however, I-680 motorists will have to deal with the inconvenience of nighttime lane closures and slowing traffic at times for perhaps a year or more.
  • New study calls on O.C. tollway agency to shelve project. Because of the weakened financial condition of Orange County’s largest tollway network, a new study recommends that its leadership postpone a road project and stop borrowing money until state authorities can review the operation.
  • 110’s New Toll Lanes Speedier But Regular Lanes Are Slower. LA’s first toll lanes, the ExpressLanes, opened in a pilot program on the 110 last fall–the idea is that solo drivers pay a per-mile fee (higher at more trafficky times, aka congestion pricing) to use the carpool lanes so that traffic speeds up for everyone. How’s it working out so far? Half ok! The carpool lanes are speedier, but the solo lanes have actually slowed.
  • Caltrans set to begin I-580 project near Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. Caltrans has begun a bridge decks replacement project on Interstate 580 in Richmond near the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge that will result in overnight lane closures at the east end of the bridge.
  • What went wrong on Highway 1? Caltrans explains what happened and what’s next. How did some 20 miles of Highway 1 north of Cambria get so rough? Caltrans was trying to extend the pavement’s life by giving it a fresh top coat. According to Steve Price, deputy director of maintenance and operations for Caltrans District 5, the $2.1 million chip-seal coating applied last fall was designed to prevent future damage.
  • Plenty of highway project milestones ahead. Kim Miles for the past year has experienced the massive Highway 12 construction project close up as she makes her daily commute through Jameson Canyon. “I think things are going really well,” Miles said. “I see a lot of progress. I see a lot of people out there working really hard. It looks really nice. I like all the rock walls.” She should see some milestones taking place this coming year, including perhaps getting the chance to drive on some of the new pavement within the next few weeks.
  • Contra Costa County: Relief finally in sight for interchange at Highway 4, I-680. The interchange at Interstate 680 and Highway 4 near Martinez and Concord is such a headache that Contra Costa voters in 1988 approved a half-cent sales tax to start planning its fix. Now, at last, Contra Costa County’s congestion management agency says it has found a path to begin the first phase of the $400 million freeway fix in about two years, pulling it out of an indefinite limbo.
  • Hope exists for easing 101-Willow Road delays in Menlo Park. There are no plans to widen Willow Road, but Menlo Park and Caltrans are considering making the traffic signals better by implementing an adaptive signal system along the 101-Willow corridor. That is where the lights react to actual traffic conditions all day long.