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Archive for May, 2007

color my BART

metro-red-line.jpgOne thing that I, as a former Washingtonian (as in DC), couldn’t help but notice when I arrived in the Bay Area in March of last year was how much the BART system resembles the capitol’s Metro system.

The cars appeared identical, although I learned Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, May 11th, 2007
Under: air travel, BART, Caltrain, connectivity, Funding | 7 Comments »

coping with the “Bay Bridge collapse”


A Caltrans spokesperson mentioned that a journalism student called the other day about a story on the economic impact of the “Bay Bridge collapse” on San Francisco businesses.

The student was politely told that the bridge was still up and running, and that businesses weren’t affected. There will be a quiz later.

You can quibble about the affect of the April 29 MacArthur Maze eastbound I-80-I-580 connector collapse on downtown business on both sides of the Bay, but it does seem that there has been some economic impact from the aforementioned collapse of the Bay Bridge.

Being in the news business, I’m often comparing what people have heard or what people think they heard with what Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, May 10th, 2007
Under: air travel, Bay Bridge, driving, Freeway collapse, Safety, taxicabs, Transit vs. driving | No Comments »

betting on a quick fix for Maze

ramp-closed-see-newspaper.jpgI have to say my jaw dropped a bit when I heard the low bid for replacing the I-580 ramp for the MacArthur Maze: $867,075.

For a few more thousand, you could Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, May 7th, 2007
Under: Caltrans, driving, Freeway collapse, Freeways, Funding, Safety | No Comments »

Caltrans’ finest hour?


You gotta hand it to Caltrans, assuming nothing collapses this week, for getting the I-880 connector back up in a week.

I mean, it looked pretty bad after 4/29, all blackened and pockmarked, with a huge chunk of concrete safety barrier missing from the side where the gasoline tanker truck hit (explain to me again how he survived?).

Now it’s up and running, and this morning at 10 a.m., Caltrans will be live on the Web opening bids for reconstructing the melted I-580 connector ramp at

There’s a chance, I suppose, that Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, May 7th, 2007
Under: Caltrans, driving, Freeway collapse, Freeways, Funding | 4 Comments »

sipping unleaded at the CAFE

For those of you who are tired of hearing about the Maze collapse, here’s a little something out of Washington to chew on: A press release I received today from the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

It’s anticipating the unthinkable: Congress might actually force carmakers to improve fuel economy standards for the first time since I got my driver’s license:

Washington, D.C., May 3, 2007 — Members of the Senate will hear testimony today on the effects of the federal government’s fuel economy regulations, but will likely fail to address one of the program’s most glaring flaws: its deadly effect on safety.

While the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation hears Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, May 3rd, 2007
Under: driving, Environment, Freeways, Safety, Security | 5 Comments »

mark your calendars: ride BART until June 29

Finally, a date: June 29.

That’s when Caltrans is expecting an end to the Maze mess. It’s the day after the deadline the state’s transportation department is setting for the contractor that is presumably going to bid on the job of up to $20 million to rebuild the melted eastbound I-80-I-580 connector ramp.

If the contractor with the winning bid, to be opened Monday, is early, it will be rewarded with $200,000 a day. Each day late will cost same amount.

In the meantime, all those good little commuters out there taking BART and transbay buses are starting to slip back to their old habits, according to numbers I received today from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

On Monday, when everyone was thoroughly frightened by the predicted traffic “nightmare” and stayed off the roads, Bay Bridge traffic dropped 18 percent below normal to fewer than Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, May 3rd, 2007
Under: BART, Caltrans, driving, Freeway collapse, Freeways, Safety, Transit vs. driving | No Comments »

preparing for the 4/29 commission


I’m sorry it took so long to discover this, but if you want to get to the bottom of what really happened Sunday, there are plenty of resources out there.

The first one, referred to me by our esteemed feature writer, Laura Casey, is .

It asks,

Does Governor Schwarzenegger really expect us to believe a story even more preposterous than the already discredited official story about 9/11? To answer the question “Who is responsible for this terrible tragedy?” we must ask who stood to Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007
Under: art, Caltrans, Freeway collapse | 1 Comment »

and then the clouds parted


There’s got to be some gloom and doom out there, I just know it.

But today Gov. Schwarzenegger announced that the closed ramp from westbound I-80 to southbound I-880 isn’t so badly damaged that it needs to be replaced. The fix will take seven to 10 days, and the lesser of the two traffic hassles will be erased.

This morning I got on KQED’s “Forum” program and predicted, as I did here, that this morning’s rain was going to drive Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007
Under: BART, Buses, Caltrans, driving, Freeway collapse, Freeways, Funding, Transit vs. driving | 7 Comments »

a grim prediction

Everybody’s been saying that Monday drivers were scared onto BART and other public transit, and that later in the week we’d see people getting back into their cars and creating gridlock on all those alternate routes through the streets of Oakland, Berkeley and Emeryville.

Even so, Tuesday turned out OK. Enough people were still doing the smart thing and riding transit.

Today I don’t see things going so well. Not because it’s later in the week, and people are thinking: “I can take my car this time and it won’t create a huge problem, because all those other drivers are being Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007
Under: BART, Buses, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), Freeway collapse, Freeways, parking, rail, Safety, Transit vs. driving | 2 Comments »

fabrication of steel issue


I love my job.

One freeway ramp gets cooked and the next day it becomes the poster child for a dozen or so causes.

I received one press release today that said the collapse showed that California needs to build more highway capacity to cope with such a major disruption. The very next e-mail said the collapse and aftermath showed why public transit is so important as alternative transportation during a disaster.

I’m just waiting for Rep. Brian Baird, a Washington State Democrat with steel fabrication going on in his district, to jump on this as an example of what happens when the steel industry is not Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, May 1st, 2007
Under: Bay Bridge, Caltrans, driving, Freeway collapse, Freeways, Funding, Safety, Transit vs. driving | No Comments »