Q: As a daily Bay Bridge commuter, a question I have is why the one toll booth that’s been closed for over a year has not been repaired and put back into service?
AT: It’s been closed for three years, since toll taker Si Si Han was killed there when a box truck driven by a drunk driver, who had also been smoking pot, slammed into a line of cars and then demolished her toll booth. It killed her instantly.
There are no imminent plans to install a new booth as bridge officials say there is no evidence that one extra lane will help with traffic when the metering lights are on during commute times, and it would cost $ 100,000 to replace it. Plus, in a few years, most toll booths will be removed as the state goes to open-road tolling and tolls will be paid primarily through FasTrak.
Q: Kudos to Caltrans for installing the new LED lighting on Interstate 880 between San Jose and Richmond. In the rain and dark, the lights were awesome compared with before they were turned on. My drive is much safer.
Rob A., Gilroy
AT: Happy new year. This should be a welcomed improvement across the state, where about 90 percent of Caltrans high-pressure sodium lights have been converted to LEDs, which last about 15 years compared to four years for the older bulbs. As you note, they provide greater visibility, longer life, and an annual savings of about $ 5.7 million in replacement and energy costs.
Q: I keep waiting for Interstate 80 to be repaved between San Francisco and Sacramento. Any chance my wait will soon end?
Phil Castillo, San Francisco
AT: Be patient a little longer. In three years, the state will begin paving I-80 toward Sacramento. But in a year, Caltrans will begin work on paving in both directions from Highway 4 to the Carquinez Bridge and will use high-reflective material for road striping. These stripes will be 6-inch-wide thermoplastic, expected to last up to six years, compared with painted stripes that have a life of about one year.
The new striping is also embedded with tiny glass beads that reflect light. This makes the lane markings more visible. About 16,000 miles of highway lanes have been restriped with this method, slightly under one-third of the lane miles state roads across California.
Q: I see more traffic lights being turned away from their original position. I hope it’s not a trend some idiots started.
AT: No. Traffic engineers sometimes shift signals slightly to make it clear what lanes they are controlling. They also use yellow frames called reflective backplates to make them stand out so that motorists can see the signals.