I-680 northbound ranked 5th most congested Bay Area commute

I-80 from Hercules to Oakland tops list; I-580 westbound in Tri-Valley is No. 8

A list of the Bay Area's top 10 most congested freeway commutes in 2014 was released Thursday by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), with the Interstate 680 northbound evening commute through the San Ramon Valley coming in the No. 5 spot.

The segment, I-680 northbound from Crow Canyon Road in San Ramon to Treat Boulevard in Walnut Creek, was also ranked fifth in the 2013 MTC report.

Topping the list is the westbound morning commute on I-80 from Hercules to Oakland, commission officials said. The I-80 commute has held the top spot often in the last 15 years or so, but dropped to fourth in 2013, commission spokesman John Goodwin said.

The congested freeway segment extends for 17 miles from the Highway 4 interchange to the Bay Bridge toll plaza, according to commission officials.

The second most congested commute is the southbound morning drive on I-880 between San Leandro and Milpitas, which was also second last year, commission officials said.

In third place, is the southbound afternoon commute on Highway 101 from Fair Oaks Avenue in Sunnyvale to Oakland Road in North San Jose, according to commission officials.

Another Tri-Valley freeway segment, I-580 westbound from the San Joaquin County line to Santa Rita Road/Tassajara Road in Pleasanton/Dublin, ranked eighth on the MTC list -- an improvement of two spots compared to its No. 6 ranking in 2013.

The freeway congestion list is part of a suite of transportation indicators compiled by the commission, a list that includes a measure of "congested delay."

Congested delay is a condition in which traffic moves at 35 mph or less for a period of 15 minutes or more, Goodwin said.

Congested delay in the Bay Area was up 3% in 2014 to 2.7 minutes per commuter per weekday, on average, from 2.6 minutes in 2013, commission officials said.

The 2.7 figure is a record level of delay per commuter, up nearly 40% from 1.9 minutes in 2010, according to commission officials.

Growth in population and employment are behind the increase in congested delay, even though the Bay Area's population and employment are not growing as fast as congestion, Goodwin said.

He likened the link between congestion delay and employment and population growth to the straw that broke the camel's back.

"Small changes can have a big impact on congestion conditions," Goodwin said.

He said on Columbus Day this year, aggregate roadway demand was down 3 to 5 percent, but congestion was down by 50%.

Transportation investments in coming years may help alleviate congestion.

BART service to San Jose, BART capacity improvements, Caltrain electrification and new express lanes on freeways (including I-680 through the San Ramon Valley and I-580 in Pleasanton, Dublin and Livermore) may help, Santa Clara County Supervisor and MTC chair Dave Cortese said in a statement.

Also, if the number of commuters traveling by car continues to shrink, congestion may shrink too.

Carpoolers and solo drivers amounted to 76% of commute trips in 2014, down from 78% in 2010. During the same time, the percentage of workers commuting by transit increased to 12% from 10%, according to commission officials.

The MTC's top 10 list is available online.

- staff and Bay City News Service.

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Like this comment
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 17, 2015 at 8:48 pm

Wow!!!! I don't get out much after 5:30pm. I just went to downtown Danville from the Gale Ranch area in San Ramon at about 5:30 on a Thursday. Gridlock city! It took 25 minutes. Plus, the side roads off Sycamore, Hartz, etc were gridlock. Went to The Livery first, no parking at all at 6pm on a Thursday. Went to downtown, no parking. Again, I haven't been out much, is it always like this? Or is it that CA just has way too many people? Both sides of 680 were gridlock. Does commute hour end at 10pm now or what?

4 people like this
Posted by Commuting mom
a resident of Danville
on Dec 18, 2015 at 7:10 am

The 680 afternoon commute is so bad now that drivers jump off to take side streets and clog up Danville town traffic. Yes it's always bad! :(

6 people like this
Posted by bunny
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 18, 2015 at 9:07 am

I went from San Ramon to Walnut Creek around 3:30pm three times last week. Traffic was 25mph the whole way each time - when it was moving at all. I don't think express lanes will help any more than the diamond lanes are helping now. It just squeezes more traffic into the other lanes, adding to the slowdown. We now spend so much time waiting at red-lights. it just awful. Personally I would take the bus more but it doesn't run late enough and not at all on weekends and I'm worried about getting caught somewhere with no way to get home. Plus they turn a 15-minute trip into an hour or more at times.

The peaceful place so many of us moved to here, is almost gone. As more people come in, it's not only congestion but crime that goes up, and our property taxes and rent. Our wildlife is being pushed away and even killed outright (woodpeckers at Rossmoor & pigs in San Ramon. Turkeys are being hit by cars). We don't have enough water for the people who are here, yet more homes and businesses are always being built. If only the decision-makers in government would look beyond the dollar; look at the big picture.

4 people like this
Posted by PSMacintosh
a resident of Danville
on Dec 18, 2015 at 10:28 am

This proves it!
California Government has been a pathetic failure over the last 10-20 years. And CAL TRANS is a big sucking failure (its ideas, policies, concepts, and philosophies)!
They have no concept or solution for the real every-day problems that we face. And the DAILY TRAFFIC CONGESTION that we have is a real, down-to-earth and constant problem that we face locally.

If these two were students in school, they would be graded an "F" every year, year after year.
If they were a private business, they would be out-of-business or taken over by the competition.
Unfortunately, they are "government" and a monopoly that is out of control and operating on our endless supply of tax money.

The problem is NOT the growth in population and increase in employment. Don't fall for that excuse. The growth was easily foreseeable.
The problem is their failure to correctly plan and provide for that growth. The failure to expand the highway infrastructure to address that growth (including its non-carpool drivers and short local trip drivers) and provide a real solution is the fault of the government planners and their concepts.

All the past years of highway construction--to build carpool lanes, metering light systems, toll roads, etc.--have been a failure and a waste of time and money from the real solutions.

These two cronies (Cal Trans agency and Democrat-run State Legislature) REFUSE, still to this day, to face and meet the need directly.
They don't care about what you want. Instead, they want to force you out of your car and into their conceived concept of transportation.
Their concepts have been wrong.
They have FAILED to meet the need. The proof is in the CONGESTION.
We need to get rid of them!!!!!!!!!!!

However, it will never happen. I have no faith in the voters I see and hear around me. Most actually believe the junk-science that Cal Trans throws at them. And some are so committed to their political party that they will blindly vote and support them no matter what.

Can you imagine how stressful and unpleasant California traffic is going to be in another 20 years?
Even if more people use "mass" transit systems, it is going to be unpleasant.

There is one possible "change-of-luck" solution from this CONGESTION problem that just might fall into the laps of our Politicians and allow them to coincidentally escape from the full effects of their transportation failures--that is the technological innovation of SELF-DRIVING cars.
Self-driving cars, that could loosely string themselves into long lines of moderately moving traffic, could allow the Politicians to escape this dilemma because drivers might not care about the longer commute times and crowded traffic if they could effectively use their time to do other things (read email, etc.), rather than to handle stop and go driving stresses.
But the Politicians would still need to change their highway concepts and plans from building carpool/toll/mass lanes to building single-driver vehicle lanes in order to be prepared for this new future concept.

2 people like this
Posted by Tulla
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 18, 2015 at 10:49 am

PSM, yes they are a huge failure, I agree. Run by people who either have the wrong agenda (perhaps money-grabbing) or are inept. Either way, failures.

<<I have no faith in the voters I see and hear around me.

So, it's your way, PSM, or the congested highway, it seems. I think to solve this, one has to be more broad-minded, don't you think? Work together. And if population-growth is allowed to continue, there won't be room on the highways or side-streets to accommodate all those driverless cars.

8 people like this
Posted by Xin Han
a resident of Blackhawk
on Dec 18, 2015 at 12:52 pm

Congested freeways mean we must think of creating alternatives, more public transit, lure business here so everyone is not commuting, create affordable housing so folks have opportunity to stay close to work, schools, etc.

Answer is not to stop people from moving to this area .. that is the most stupid response to the problem

6 people like this
Posted by ohyikes
a resident of Blackhawk
on Dec 19, 2015 at 6:48 am

I don't think anyone should take rants from the likes of PSM seriously. When he's not complaining about government spending, he's grousing about congestion. And in every case it's the Democrats' fault -- local, state and federal.

You got it, PSM -- 'starve the beast' and then complain that it's not doing anything the resources that it no longer has. Deep down, I think you know who's been blocking funds needed to upgrade our infrastructure.

That said, I do like my little private sector traffic ameliorator -- It's been a big help in avoiding non-systemic jams. Traffic radio is too slow. By the time they know about it, you can learn why you're delayed, but rarely how to avoid the problem. Apps, however, alert you in time AND suggest alternatives. Hard to measure, but they also reduce overall congestion by taking the likes of me out of those jams. Thanks Wayzie!

4 people like this
Posted by Long term resident
a resident of Danville
on Dec 21, 2015 at 8:53 am

It wasn't popular then and it probably wouldn't be popular now, but back in the 1970's when they were removing the railroad tracks and building Iron Horse trail, I suggested a light rail system would be a good idea. It would serve as a feeder from the San Ramon Valley to Walnut Creek BART and other destinations. I have to admit, I love Iron Horse Trail the way it is, but that is an alternative with land already available.

Most issues we have, a lack of parking, water shortages, traffic, air pollution, etc. can all be blamed on population increases without good long range planning. Unfortunately, our legislative process is a joke on both sides of the aisle. The representatives are so eager to deal with today's issues and secure another term that they won't deal with the more painful long term issues that may take years to payout and make a difference. A good example is the water shortage. Every time we have a drought, short term knee jerk reactions are put in place. When the drought us over, the water issue is long forgotten until the next drought. In simple terms, our population has almost doubled in the past 30 years, yet are water infrastructure remains almost the same. It doesn't take a genius to figure it out. This is not a climate change issue either. We have cycled in and out of droughts ever since my family moved here in the early 1950's.

Let's send the message to our representatives to work on long term solutions and stop pointing fingers at others.

11 people like this
Posted by reality
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 21, 2015 at 9:28 am

An excellent long-term solution to many of the world's problems: birth-control. I'm not kidding. The human population is already overwhelming the planet. It can't support an unlimited supply of people.

2 people like this
Posted by dbrower
a resident of Alamo
on Dec 23, 2015 at 8:57 pm

Dear PSMacintosh,

I understand you consider current policies to be failures, but I didn't see in your note much suggestion about what successful alternative policies would be.

What would you like politicians to do instead of what they are doing?

I am looking forward to self-driving cars, and hope they arrive while I still have any interest in going anywhere.

2 people like this
Posted by Danny
a resident of Danville
on Dec 24, 2015 at 12:39 pm

Instead of promoting a sterile existence why don't you good people convert to using our public transportation system to reduce the number of vehicles on the road? Hands? Common now. Show the passion of your convictions.

Now, locals know the 24 / 680 interchange is a disaster and has been for 30 years. Often the traffic begins and ends at this split and then the Highway 4 split. And of course this is after the 15 year improvement / construction project of the 680/24 interchange back in the 80's and 90's. Weasels wait to the last minute to move over to 680 and invariably sit in the 24 off ramp at a dead stop causing accidents and clogging traffic on the 680.

The REALITY is the 680 is now NorCal version of the 405 in L.A.. Why? It DOESN'T MATTER what time you drive on the 680. SOMETHING will be happening to cause traffic. Assume it and plan accordingly. That is what I did in L.A. and this is now what I do at home in NorCal.

Like this comment
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