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I-680 toll express lanes construction set to start

Original post made on Aug 5, 2015

The project to bring toll express lanes to Interstate 680 through the San Ramon Valley is expected to start construction this month, with completion estimated for late next year, according to regional transportation officials.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, August 4, 2015, 10:51 PM

Comments (23)

Posted by Concerned
a resident of Alamo
on Aug 5, 2015 at 8:26 am

The addition of toll lanes will simply force more traffic off the freeway and onto Danville Blvd which is already congested. There are many of us who will not pay a toll to drive from Alamo to Walnut Creek so you are likely to have a relatively empty lane with the other lanes totally jammed and producing a larger traffic backup than you currently have. If the new toll lane is constructed similar to the one south bound on 680 in Sunol, you will drive for miles before you can exit the toll lane - missing many off-ramps from San Ramon to Walnut Creek.

Posted by Commonsense
a resident of Alamo
on Aug 5, 2015 at 8:31 am

All this succeeds in doing is to charge money for something our taxes already paid for. Terrific. Thinking it through, what is the real value to this at all? The existing carpool lane is a bust once it gets north of Livorna. With no new lanes, all it does is get paying people into a traffic jam north of Livorna more quickly. Why would anyone pay for that?

Posted by Jim
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 5, 2015 at 8:53 am

How many of you voted to create any of these "Boards" "Commissions" "Agencies" or "Authorities"?


Way too many agencies and redundancy. They come up with an acronym and all of a sudden they are a dictatorship!. This is out of control. Do they account for the proposed HOV on and offramps in San Ramon as part of this toll lane scheme? Is there physical room on hte freeway for both? Is there coordination between BAIFA, MTC and CCTA? How do we stop all of this insanity?

Posted by Duckles
a resident of Danville
on Aug 5, 2015 at 9:02 am

Neither of you seem to understand that 1. The existing carpool lanes are being used more efficiently by allowing more traffic to use them and should not result in more people using Danville Blvd. 2. That eventually there WILL be a additional lane north of Rudgear to continue the carpool/express lane. That section will cost a LOT more money to complete which is why they still need funding. At the moment yes, at the end of the existing carpool lane northbound there will be the same backup. I would rather they had found the money to do the northern section first as it makes more sense to build that.

Posted by Lee
a resident of Danville
on Aug 5, 2015 at 9:11 am

How many of you that have made comments actually read the full report?

It stated specifically that: "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."

What that means is that in addition to the current users solo drivers that choose to pay may also use the current carpool lane.

Posted by Commonsense
a resident of Alamo
on Aug 5, 2015 at 9:35 am

I did read the report. I drive SB680 through the Sunol area and note most days that the toll lanes do little to change the backup. All it has done is cost those willing to pay for access to the carpool lane. Which has done little to solve the problem that this plan is designed to solve.

So, carpools get free access, as they do now. So will electric vehicles, hybrids, etc., public transit, buses, motorcycles, etc. By the way, they can already use the carpool lane. The only thing this plan does is get the single driver to have to pay to use the carpool lane. How does that eliminates traffic in practice? It doesn't.

Unless more lanes are built, then we are about to be charged again for something that we already paid for.

Posted by cyclist2
a resident of Danville
on Aug 5, 2015 at 10:00 am

The HOV lane is already crowded and slow when the rest of the lanes are slow. Why would you pay to sit stopped in that lane?
The problem is too many people. Our local governments keep approving more developments bringing more people and more traffic. I don't see any solution with current attitudes on population growth.

Posted by cmac
a resident of Alamo
on Aug 5, 2015 at 10:22 am

The continued development of the area is the real concern as stated by cyclist2. More development equals people and cars that will only add to the already over taxed infrastructure. I've seen NB 680 car pool lane thru Danville and it really doesn't move much faster than the other lanes, and adding a chance for drivers to pay to use this lane will only slow it more. $16M (seems high) could be better spent elsewhere.

Posted by PSMacintosh
a resident of Danville
on Aug 5, 2015 at 10:41 am

We had no vote and no say in this matter.
Our city and county politicians did not represent us in the matter.

HOW can we stop this construction!?!

Posted by Mark B
a resident of Danville
on Aug 5, 2015 at 11:14 am

This project fills a small piece of a much larger need. The gas taxes that have traditionally funded maintenance and improvements to our transportation system have shrunk in real dollars and have not kept pace with inflation. Managing an efficient transportation system requires funding, and the most equitable method of funding is to charge based on supply and demand - a market based approach. Tolling systems allow fees to be adjusted to the available capacity of the system (the supply) and how many people decide to use the system (the demand). The cost may be too high for many people to use the toll lane during congested periods, but if the consequences of sitting in traffic are too great, an individual may choose to pay the rate. This may be important for rich or poor people in certain circumstances. Efficient and equitable management of transportation systems is a good thing.

Posted by Xin Han
a resident of Blackhawk
on Aug 5, 2015 at 1:36 pm

@Cyclist2, @cmac - easy for you to say, you are already here. Why don't you leave and relieve the population burden a bit
@Lee - thank you for pointing out a very important detail. Most Alamo posters at top of the thread made no attempt to fully understand the proposal. Morons!

This just offers an option if someone wants to pay to use the HOV lane, I like having that choice.

Posted by OldHenry
a resident of Danville
on Aug 5, 2015 at 5:08 pm

One of the benefits of being retired is that you can drive on the hour when everyone else has to be somewhere. Avoid traveling on the half hour when everyone is trying to get somewhere. Another advantage of old age is that all the unattractive women have vanished.
Old Henry

Posted by Louise
a resident of Danville
on Aug 5, 2015 at 5:52 pm

There are advantages to being retired and also not having to commute during peak hours. But due to population growth very shortly it wont' matter what time you get on the road, it will be congested. We are reaching that tipping point and not much longer will we have the luxury of slow times on our main freeways. The toll and HOV lanes are a minor solution as many have stated. They are not that much faster or less crowded than the other lanes at peak times. No way to control the population growth. There is no mechanism for that other than individual lifestyle choice. The government doesn't want to interfere - it is too much of a third rail issue and they make more money with more people, The political leaders have enough money to be out of the fray and crush of humanity the rest of us have to deal with. They have drivers and jets to get to their destinations.

Posted by Pedal Power
a resident of Danville
on Aug 5, 2015 at 11:29 pm

I used to be a believer, in carpool lanes, until they extended the hours on my commute, southbound 680 out of Walnut Creek from 6pm until 7 pm. And then it became obvious, from how traffic just stayed backlogged for another hour, that the carpool lane was the problem not the solution.

Posted by Danville Mom
a resident of Danville
on Aug 5, 2015 at 11:42 pm

Do you all even know what 'Express Lanes' means? It means we local people won't be able to use the only lanes that have saved us from all the Silicon Valley traffic jamming up our area for the last 15 years. We will be treated to 15 more months of construction and at the end we will be forced to sit in traffic in the local lanes for half an hour to get from Danville to San Ramon instead of being able to go over to the carpool lanes for a few miles to escape all the rush hour traffic when we have to take our kids to some activity a few miles away. If they ever do spend the money to relieve congestion on the northern end, it won't matter for us, because we won't have access to these great new lanes that might actually move. Of course they aren't going to let us vote because no one in their right mind in this areas would vote for it.

Posted by Claire
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 6, 2015 at 8:33 am

I suppose this means that the HOV on- and off-ramps are a done deal as well?

Posted by Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 6, 2015 at 5:28 pm

To Claire and all those opposed to the $102,000,000 HOV ramps now under study for San Ramon either at Norris Canyon/680 or at Executive Parkway/680 (just South of Norris Canyon.). These HOV ramps are not a "done deal". CCTA is currently preparing an EIR for presentation to and review by the San Ramon City council this October or November.

The S.R. City council can vote to reject both of the HOV ramp alternates because there is also a "no Build" alternate. Presently during commute hours, more often than not, the present HOV lanes are backed up, barely creeping or stopped, as are the other freeway lanes, so it makes no logical sense to spend $102,000,000 to build an overpass/ramp structure that will get a bus 3 minutes quicker to the center HOV freeway lanes when those lanes are already stopped or barely moving.

Both of these two HOV ramp alternates will devastate San Ramon residents living on the West side of 680 in the Twin Creeks developments. The HOV ramps will be huge concrete structures that will increase freeway noise from busses and HOV vehicles transiting up and down the ramps and by reflecting ground level traffic noise into adjacent neighborhoods. Visual pollution will be hugely increased both during the day and at night from vehicle lights on the ramps and from the traffic control lights at the top of the ramps. Pollution will be significantly increased from micron-size particulate emissions from diesel exhaust that just happens to be carcinogenic.

Please email each of the S.R. city council and let them know that you are opposed to the HOV ramps at Executive Parkway and at Norris Canyon. (Google city of San Ramon for their web site to get appropriate city council email addresses.) Don't just "be" opposed to the both HOV ramp alternates, please take three minutes and send the emails so the council knows your thoughts.

Posted by Jim
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 6, 2015 at 5:38 pm

Nope, Claire. The HOV On and Off Ramps in San Ramon (most likely at Norris Canyon) are not a done deal. There is a draft EIR (Environmental Impact Report) due by the end of summer or this fall. It will be available for public comment. The draft EIR is being done through CCTA (Contra Costa Transit Authority). The City of San Ramon (as a partner agency) has the ability to kill this project. It takes a vote of the City Council to basically tell CCTA that San Ramon does not want to be a partner agency anymore. Many of the councilmembers have stated that they will not take a stand of Yes or No on the HOV Ramps in San Ramon until this report comes out. They are basciaclly stalling because they don't want to deal with it and they just want to let it happen. Wake up San Ramon residents and get in the face of all 5 councilmembers (which inludes the Mayor, Bill Clarkson). They've kicked the can down the road for over three years now saying they want to see what the EIR has to say. The EIR will undoubtedly be a bunch of boiler-plate bunk! San Ramon Council can stop this project and could have stopped it even before the EIR came out. They are just weak and spineless. Hold their feet to the fire. There's an election in 2016 too, so make them think about that! San Ramon HOV Ramps are far from dead. The citizens need to rise up and let their voices be heard.

Posted by Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 7, 2015 at 4:14 pm

Most on the S.R. City Council are indeed spineless and do not represent the best interests of the people who actually live in San Ramon. Unfortunately a lot of the campaign funding for city council seats is funded by special interest(s)--could that be Sunset Development/Bishop Ranch? In the last S.R. City council election, one of the two elected candidates (D.H.)was funded to the tune of about $18,000, and that is for a City council seat!(would be very interesting to look up the major contributors!) The candidate that best represented the interests of local residents, VonThury, was self funded (limited to about $1,000- or so of his own money)and therefore was financially outclassed by special interest(s).

Another big problem here in San Ramon is that it is a "hotbed of apathy", the electorate is detached from local politics, likely because they are too busy working hard to pay their high mortgages and keeping up with personal business. Only about 20% of the electorate even bothered to vote in the last city council election.

Therefore, if you do not want these HOV ramps, get involved; at least take a few minutes and email every member of the S.R. city council and tell them what you think, also get your friends to do the same. You really have to do something! Do not be a victim that simply complains after the fact.

Posted by San Ramonian
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 8, 2015 at 3:57 pm

To: Xin Han,resident of Blackhawk, Aug 5, 2015, who said (among other things including calling others morons): "This just offers an option if someone wants to pay to use the HOV lane, I like having that choice."

This San Ramon resident's taxes have already helped pay for the I680 freeway, & charging me for the use of a lane on this freeway is just plain wrong and a form of double taxation & changing the rules after the fact. Xin Han, how would you like the Blackhawk H.O. Association to unilaterally decide to sell admission to your gated community so people that pay to enter can come and go at will? Maybe that way we could solve the homeless problem & the illegal alien problem so they all can pitch a tent on your front yard. Who is the moron Xin Han??

Posted by Reality Slap
a resident of Danville
on Aug 12, 2015 at 6:27 pm

All this brings to mind is the old adage : 5 pounds of manure in 3 pound sack.

Posted by dbrower
a resident of Alamo
on Aug 13, 2015 at 10:41 pm

Maybe we should reconsider using the Iron Horse right-of-way for transit. It doesn't look like many of us are going to leave the area, and we should probably realize we're not stuck in traffic, we ARE the traffic.

Posted by FanDanville
a resident of Danville
on Aug 14, 2015 at 11:29 am

Yes, bring a BART line down the Iron Horse Trail.
(Let the screaming begin from the property owners along that route!)

Have it be either raised level tracks or subterranean (more expensive).

It's primary goal should be to service the local communities hops. Have it stop at EVERY major road to really service the LOCAL area (even though slightly slower)--Stone Valley, Livorna, Diablo, Sycamore, Crow Canyon, Bollinger, Alcosta.
The long distance commuting goals (Livermore to Antioch) should be of secondary importance to servicing the local stops (but beneficial nonetheless).

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