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Archive for October, 2009

Fixing the fix; when will the Bay Bridge reopen?

It was a deja vu experience for news reporters and motorists last night as the Bay Bridge was closed indefinitely to shore up a cracked bridge piece called an eyebar. It turns out that parts of the the Labor Day weekend fix – a giant metal splint - failed and crashed onto the bridge.

Caltrans said this morning it doesn’t know when the fix can be fixed, but officials expect it to be “days at the worst.” Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, October 28th, 2009
Under: Bay Bridge, Bridges, Caltrans, Safety | No Comments »

A chance to chime in before bridge tolls are raised

Bay Area bridge operators have scheduled three public hearings on a proposed toll increase on seven state bridges. While bridge operators appear determined to raise tolls, they have many details to figure out.

Members of the Bay Area Toll Authority are wrestling with how to revamp tolls to do two new things: collecting tolls from car pools during rush hour periods on all seven bridges, and structuring Bay Bridge tolls so drivers pay more during peak periods, and less during in off-peak times.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, October 27th, 2009
Under: Bay Bridge, Bridges, Caltrans, driving, Retrofitting, tolls | No Comments »

Share your opinion on proposed higher tolls

 

The view from the toll plaza may soon become even more unpleasant if a change contemplated for next year goes through: the end of free rides for car pools during rush-hour periods. And on the Bay Bridge, regular drivers not in car pools also may in for a shock: higher tolls during peak commute periods than at other times.

Do you have an opinion on the plan to increase bridge tolls and charge carpoolers during rush hour? Share your thoughts with columnist Tom Barnidge at tbarnidge@bayareanewsgroup.com.

Posted on Monday, October 26th, 2009
Under: Misc. Transportation | No Comments »

AC Transit’s general manager steps down

AC Transit’s general manager is resigning, the agency announced late Friday afternoon in another development in a year full of pain for Bay Area transit in general and and the bus agency in particular.

The agency declared a fiscal emergency earlier this year and projected a $57 million operating deficit last June. AC Transit has been wheeling and dealing to prevent an impending impending cuts of 15 percent to bus service.

Rick Fernandez, who has served as general manager since 1999, said in a statement that he intends to spend more time with his family.

Posted on Friday, October 16th, 2009
Under: Misc. Transportation | No Comments »

Will the toll on bridge drivers be too big a toll?

People who take car pools across seven Bay Area bridges may be in for an unpleasant change next year: the end of free rides for car pools during rush-hour periods. And on the Bay Bridge, regular drivers not in car pools also may in for a shock: higher tolls during peak commute periods than at other times.

Proposed options to make those major changes in July were unveiled Monday by the Bay Area Toll Authority, which plans to hold hearings in November. I’m betting both changes are going to come under fire from some angry drivers. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, October 14th, 2009
Under: BART, Bay Bridge, Bridges, Carpooling, driving, Environment, Freeways, global warming, Retrofitting, tolls, Transit vs. driving | 1 Comment »

Shriver apologizes for breaking cell phone law

Recognize the lady above? It sure looks like Maria Shriver, California’s First Lady, caught in the act of breaking the law by talking on a hand-held cell phone while driving.

Shriver has apologized for talking on a hand-held cell phone while driving, the Associated Press reported Wednesday afternoon.

The celebrity Web site TMZ.com Tuesday posted two photographs from July and October and a video showing Shriver holding a phone to her ear while she was behind the wheel. That prompted Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to write about it on Twitter, where he said “there’s going to be swift action.”

Shriver apologized in a statement Wednesday afternoon. And when is she going to pay her fine, we ask? Readers of this paper’s Queen of the Road column have often decried the practice of talking on a hand-held phone instead of a hands-free device such as a Bluetooth headset. Others have bemoaned fines they received in the hundreds of dollars for breaking the cell phone law.

Posted on Wednesday, October 14th, 2009
Under: Misc. Transportation | No Comments »

Toll shock: Will Bay Area bridge tolls go up?

Bay Area bridge operators disclosed a year ago they were considering raising tolls on seven state-owned bridges by $1 – up to $5 per car. On Wednesday morning, a toll authority committee will get down to the details of when and how to do it.

The Bay Area Toll Authority Overnight Committee meets at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at the MetroCenter, 101 Eighth Street, Oakland to consider a report on options for a toll increase.

One sticky issue is whether to start making car pools pay tolls to cross the Bay Bridge during peak commute hours. The free ride may be over.

Toll Authority administrators say they need a toll increase to pay for a seismic retrofit on the Dumbarton and Antioch bridges, to cover reduced revenues from fewer drivers crossing the bridges, and to absorb the higher cost of credit to pay for bridge operations and retrofits.

Antioch and Dumbarton bridges – the newest of the seven state bridges – initially got a clean bill of health after the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989. But now Caltrans has concluded the two bridges need to be made stronger.

The toll increase would apply to the Bay Bridge, Dumbarton, Antioch, Richmond-San Rafael, Benicia-Martinez, Carquinez and San Mateo.

State legislation adding the Dumbarton and Antioch bridges to the State Toll Bridge Seismic Retrofit Program was signed into law Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger over the weekend. The bill, authored by Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch, makes it easier for the Toll Authority to upgrade the two bridges to withstand earthquakes, toll authority staffers said.   

         

Posted on Tuesday, October 13th, 2009
Under: Bay Bridge, Caltrans, Carpooling, driving, Retrofitting, tolls | No Comments »

Bay Bridge: How will it do when the Big One hits?

We all remember the scary images of a section of the Bay Bridge upper deck collapsing like a trap door 20 years ago when the Loma Prieta earthquake shook the Bay Area.

Now we can see how the new East Span of the Bay Bridge is expected to perform in a big earthquake. Caltrans has posted a computer animated video on its Web site - baybridgeinfo.org – depicting how a major earthquake will affect the new East Span, which is scheduled for completion in 2013. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, October 13th, 2009
Under: Bay Bridge, Bridges, Caltrans, Freeway collapse | No Comments »

Opposition aims at BART rail extension to Oakland airport

Coliseum BART by Flickr user zokah_921 under Creative Commons attribution license
“Coliseum BART” by Flickr user zokah_921 used under Creative Commons attribution license

Opponents of BART’s $522 million plan to extend rail service 3.2 miles to the Oakland International Airport will make their case tonight to the Oakland City Council.  BART officials, however, contend the City Council’s support is not required, so the vote is symbolic.

Transform, an Oakland based group that supports public transit and transit-oriented development, contends that BART’s plan for a light-rail people mover system from the Coliseum BART station to the airport is too expensive. The group favors a cheaper plan to upgrade an existing bus service along the same route to a bus rapid transit program with large buses running every few minutes. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, October 6th, 2009
Under: Misc. Transportation | No Comments »

The BART fix: Can police department change after Grant shooting?

In the saga of BART’s response to the police shooting of unarmed train rider Oscar Grant III, a few things seemed destined to happen.

First, the transit board members said publicy they were sorry about the shooting. This was in early January during the board’s first meeting after passenger-shot videos showed a transit officer shooting Grant in the back as he lay prone on a station platform. The office has since resigned and been charged with murder.

Then yesterday the board promised to fix the transit police department. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, October 2nd, 2009
Under: BART, rail, Safety | No Comments »