Construction continues on the $49 million express lanes project along Interstate 680 through the San Ramon Valley, with crews this month installing sign foundations and sign posts as well as conducting electrical work.
"The sign posts will support the future placement of overhead toll system signs. The electrical system being installed on city streets and along I-680 will provide power to the toll system signs," the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) said in its monthly express lanes construction advisory.
Electrical work could take place on some San Ramon city streets this month, depending on a permit application and weather conditions, according to the MTC.
In terms of operating, "the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Bay Area Toll Authority formed a Joint Powers Authority to develop and operate MTC's express lanes. The Joint Powers Authority makes policy and operational decisions, such as toll rates, project phasing and use of revenue," according to the MTC.
Traffic monitoring video cameras, FasTrak toll tag readers, signs and striping lanes are also key elements to the construction occurring currently on the highway.
Overnight construction on I-680 will continue Mondays through Thursdays, 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. and Fridays from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m.
According to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Express Lanes project on I-680 promises drivers that the new lanes will "make the best use of HOV lane capacity, provide reliable travel times for customers, and provide solo drivers the choice to pay a toll to use the HOV lanes."
As proposed, the congestion-relief project would replace existing high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes with express lanes on southbound I-680 from Rudgear Road to Alcosta Boulevard and on northbound I-680 from Alcosta to Livorna Road in Alamo -- approximately 23 miles overall.
The express lanes would be free to access for carpools, vanpools, public transit, motorcycles and eligible clean-air vehicles while other solo drivers could pay a toll to use the lanes. Toll lane hours and rates have not been finalized, according to the MTC.
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission mentioned that, "in the regional investment by 2040 for express lanes, only 5% of the regions transportation dollars will be used to build new roads."
Once commuters on the I-680 freeway has access to the express lanes, "the electronic toll tag readers will automatically charge the appropriate tolls to a vehicle's FasTrak account. Like at Bay Area bridges, license plate cameras prevent cheating and support enforcement," said MTC officials.
The project is slated to be completed this fall. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission eventually "will operate 270 miles of the 550-mile Bay Area Express Lanes network; converting 150 miles of existing carpool lanes to express lanes and adding 120 miles of new lanes," according to the MTC.