Toll lanes could be coming to I-680 through Danville

Plan would make solo drivers pay during peak hours

Nearly 50 people turned out Thursday night to learn more about plans to convert parts of HOV lanes on Interstate 680 into toll roads during peak driving hours.

The plan is similar to one already in operation on southbound I-680 south of Sunol. When the project is complete, north and south lanes from San Ramon to Walnut Creek would have tolls during commute times.

Tolls for solo drivers would vary based on congestion and to help traffic in the express lanes flow smoothly. The fee to drive the road would increase as traffic congestion increases and decrease when congestion decreases.

The project -- expected to be completed by spring 2016 -- would convert existing HOV lanes to express lanes from Rudgear Road in Walnut Creek to Alcosta Boulevard in San Ramon southbound and from Alcosta to Livorna Road northbound. It would create 23 miles of new express lanes through San Ramon, Danville, Alamo and southern Walnut Creek.

I-680 would not be widened or have new lanes added. Instead, the existing HOV lanes would be restriped and have new FasTrak toll readers, traffic monitoring video cameras and equipment, and observation areas to help the California Highway Patrol monitor the lanes.

There are a couple differences between the toll lanes that would be installed and the toll area in operation near Sunol, according to Pierce Gould, senior planner of express lanes for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC).

Unlike the restrictive access into and out of lanes currently in use on I-680 south, Gould said, "access will be like today's HOV lanes."

That means drivers would be able to move in and out of the lanes rather than waiting for access points on the road.

A new kind of toll tag would be used as well, Gould said. The new FasTrak tag would not have to be hidden away by drivers with multiple passengers or other cars that can use the road without paying. That tag would have a switch to indicate if the driver is paying to drive the road, or in a carpool or clean air vehicle.

The plan is a product of the Bay Area Infrastructure Financing Authority (BAIFA), a joint effort between the MTC and the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA). The authority consists of elected officials from Alameda, Contra Costa, Napa and Solano counties.

When the network of express lanes is complete, BAIFA will operate 270 miles of express lanes. BAIFA will start by converting 150 miles of existing HOV lanes to express lanes, then add 120 miles of new lanes to close gaps in the system.

BAIFA says the toll lanes would create a seamless network of HOV lanes that would encourage carpools, vanpools and express buses, make better use of HOV lane capacity, provide more reliable travel times for solo drivers and manage lanes to keep traffic moving more efficiently.

The project is not connected to a plan that would create ramps onto and off HOV lanes in San Ramon.

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Posted by Rgf49er
a resident of Danville
on Feb 3, 2014 at 6:40 am

Rgf49er is a registered user.

This is a stupid use if federal funds. I've driven this stretch if road as a commuter and as a carpool. It gets congested without single drivers. Why not use the funds to add a NB 680 road from Milpitas to PLEASANTON like the southbound Sunol.

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Posted by frankly
a resident of Danville
on Feb 3, 2014 at 7:01 am

Why this particular freeway?

Does not I 580 carry more traffic then 680?

Of course!!

Then why just in Danville passage?

Can you guess?

Makes more dollars and cents. Why?

Like this comment
Posted by Sam Altshuler
a resident of Danville
on Feb 3, 2014 at 11:48 am

In evaluating the proposed toll lane on highway 680, the policy makers need to revisit the original purposes of diamond lanes: increased carpools leading to energy conservation as well as promoting clean and efficient vehicle use. Both of these goals are important in reducing our overall carbon foot print from highway transportation. By allowing single occupancy Hummers and other inefficient or older polluting vehicles to use the diamond lanes, we are flying in the face of the original intent. Furthermore, we saying to the world that money can buy you around social needs and standards. As diamond lanes get choked with single passenger inefficient vehicles, carpoolers and high efficiency, clean vehicle users get penalized. This is the wrong message to send.

Like this comment
Posted by P
a resident of Blackhawk
on Feb 3, 2014 at 2:45 pm

I am just plainly disgusted. Aren't we paying enough taxes and fees in this state already?????

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Posted by Derek
a resident of Danville
on Feb 3, 2014 at 3:25 pm

I tend to agree with Sam, and for most of any given 24 hour period, I just don't see that many people using the Sunol- Milpitas HOV lanes anyway. They are also confusing for people who don't live in the area.

Like this comment
Posted by PSMacintosh
a resident of Danville
on Feb 3, 2014 at 3:32 pm

It is TAKING AWAY a common resource of the people (of everyone), stripping them of a long-help benefit (I say "right," not "privilege". Then holding it up for the sale (or special taxation) and usage by a certain segment of the population.
It is GIVING the resource into the hands of special interest groups with special agendas.

IMO, ALL carpool lanes, HOV lanes, and toll lanes should have been declared illegal a long time ago.
We are like the frog in a pot of slowly boiling water--being stripped of all our liberties by the all-controlling eco fears and tax-happy bureaucrats.

This will be hell for the local citizens of Danville, San Ramon, Dublin, Alamo in making simple cross-town trips that involve jumping on and off the freeways, sorry "motorways".

This project is pushed, not by local citizens, but by outsider groups and businesses!

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Posted by C. R. Mudgeon
a resident of Danville
on Feb 3, 2014 at 5:07 pm

In a story about this on the TV news, it was stated that this will allow "better utilization" of the existing HOV lane. If that is the case, then opening the HOV lane to ALL traffic would allow even better "utilization". While restricting HOV lanes to cars with 2 or 3 passengers provides a nice perk for carpoolers, it is far from clear that it actually reduces pollution (independent of whether you think that CO2 is actually a "pollutant"). Because the single-person vehicles who spend more time stuck in traffic (due to restricted use of one lane) are consuming more fuel/mile, than they would be if everyone could use any lane.

The real reason for this is, of course, raising "revenues". One might argue that the real reason for HOV lanes in the first place, was "step one" in migrating to toll roads:

1. Create HOV lanes for carpooling (and then hybrid/EV use).
2. Convert HOV lanes to toll lanes for single-passenger vehicles.
3. Convert all lanes to toll lanes. (Perhaps one lane at a time.)

The "switchable" Fastrak toll tags are also interesting, in regards to enforcement (or lack thereof) of toll lane use.

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Posted by Angelina Diva
a resident of Danville
on Feb 3, 2014 at 8:46 pm

I can only support new HOV lanes for Danville if the funds raised go to something critical for our region, like funding of celebrating diversity progams in the schools, or paying for illegal immigrant extended family food stamps, for example.

Like this comment
Posted by Charlie
a resident of Alamo
on Feb 4, 2014 at 8:01 am

Tell me I am not reading Angelina's posting correct - We should consider HOV lanes funds to be applied for funding illegal immigrant's "extended family food stamps" Are you kidding me ? You are illegal in this country and the legal citizens should be funding the entire family's food stamps ?

California has become such a welfare nanny state. I have lived in the San Ramon Valley since I was a child and have watched the tremendous growth. Once the Dougherty Valley was built and developed, it was evident that I-680 was unable to support the expansive development. The infrastructure has always trailed the development !

Like this comment
Posted by yikes
a resident of Blackhawk
on Feb 4, 2014 at 8:47 am

Uh, Charlie? Please recalibrate this essential tool: Web Link

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Posted by C. R. Mudgeon
a resident of Danville
on Feb 4, 2014 at 11:59 am

Ah, the difficulties in using sarcasm (and having it be interpreted correctly) in e-mail or online posts! Let alone subtle satire....

This is where smiley-face emoticons come in handy! :-)

Angelina also raises a good point. Commuters and other drivers would probably feel a bit better about toll lanes on our "freeways" (rapidly becoming an outdated term) IF we knew that the funds raised would actually go into further or additional road improvements. But even if that is the stated intent, it just means that it reduces the need for other funds to be applied to roads. I don't think it actually means (at least not necessarily) increased spending on roads.

Actually, in a separate article related to possible toll lanes on 237 (south Bay), the article said that the money would go to the VTA (Valley Transportation Authority?). But since the VTA is also the operator of the light rail system and busses in the San Jose area, this doesn't mean road improvements....

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Posted by psMacintosh
a resident of Danville
on Feb 4, 2014 at 3:40 pm

Our INFRASTRUCTURE is being stolen away from us, the people.

If you are a single rider in a car, for whatever reason no matter how valid, YOU are the current ENEMY of a particular group of radicals and their political cronies. They are starting with the single-driver, but will eventually move to the double and triple passenger.

Essentially they want government-run mass transportation systems, NOT individuals transporting themselves.

When you can't use the roadway as an individual, but have to utilize their transportation system and their infrastructure alone, then you are cut off, isolated, immobile, and essentially a dead pawn. Stay on your own land (if you have any). Don't move. Actually don't do anything on or with your own land either, unless with their permission and in accordance with their agenda.

Like this comment
Posted by 680Driver
a resident of Danville
on Feb 5, 2014 at 10:09 am

Why is it that CalTrans (or whomever is making these decisions) believes that reducing the number of lanes to the largest group of motorway users during peak times is efficient {Anywhere) ?? Is not discrimination in any form frowned upon in this country? Why is it being allowed on the roadways? All taxpayers are paying for use of the roadways, and the greatest portion of users are being denied access. WRONG Answer! And furthermore, I believe that 'metering lights', where most are placed, are in illegal locations. Most cars are not capable of going from 0 to posted speedlimit in the space they have left in the ACCELERATION LANE to legally and safely merge with traffic, as the law stipulates drivers are to do. Thus CalTrans (or whomever) is teaching drivers to merge at vastly slower speeds and thus causing great havoc and inefficiencies to those already in transit on the motorways. Rim 'em all out, OR place them where proper acceleration can be achieved. And then there's "lane sharing"... unsafe at ANY speed.. but that's another tome.

Like this comment
Posted by Another680Driver
a resident of Danville
on Feb 5, 2014 at 10:27 am

50 people showed up for this meeting? Absurd. Where was it announced? and who exactly is the Bay Area Infrastructure Financing Authority (BAIFA)?? What shadowy place do they quietly occupy and control our lives? If this meeting was staged by BAIFA, and they actually wanted input, they should have posted the meeting information on the freeway so all motorists affected would have the opportunity to attend. While folks are sitting idling in stopped traffic they would have PLENTY of time to take notes of where and when the meeting was to take place. What a bunch of cow poo to 'announce' this hugely-flawed plan to a nobody audience and then claim its wonderfulness with a bunch of self-back-patting.

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Posted by JDR
a resident of Danville
on Feb 5, 2014 at 1:04 pm

Web Link

It's a conSPIRosy, I tells ya! Don't just sit by ...

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Posted by Pedal Power
a resident of Danville
on Feb 6, 2014 at 10:24 pm

I am OK with carpool lanes in small doses but don't like the way the hours have got extended in the section up to Walnut Creek - it just pushes congestion for the rest of us an hour later into the evening, and really don't like the HOV lane setup down in Fremont where, in the off-and-on areas, they trash two perfectly good lanes to make one under-utilized one.

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Posted by Pedal Power
a resident of Danville
on Feb 6, 2014 at 10:30 pm

PS - I did see about that meeting, thanks to the Danville Express, but was not able to attend for the same reason that I no longer able to enjoy the carpool lane - due to a varying work schedule!

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