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ok, i’ll say it: stay home on Labor Day weekend

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We journalists are fond of disseminating news, or information that is new or previously unknown.

But today I’m going to tell nearly every one of you something that we’ve known for some months now, on the theory that one or two of you will be backing out of your caves on Labor Day weekend with the intention of driving somewhere.

Just to get your attention, I’ll put it the way Caltrans does on its variable message signs on all routes leading into the Bay Area:

The Bay Bridge is closed.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, August 17th, 2007
Under: 511, AC Transit, BART, Bay Bridge, Bridges, Buses, Caltrans, connectivity, driving, ferries, Freeways, Funding, Retrofitting, Safety, Transit vs. driving | 7 Comments »

tag! you’re tolled!

I was giddy with excitement last night when I went through the Carquinez Bridge toll plaza and realized that Saturday there’d be one extra FasTrak-only lane and that that stupid no-lane approach would be changed to a 3,000-foot FasTrak-only lane.

For those of you unfamiliar with the way of ETC (electronic toll collection), using the FasTrak lanes at the Carquinez often involves crossing a white line, as if you weren’t supposed to use FasTrak.

I guessed that the reasoning behind it was something like, “if you have an electronic toll tag, you must know where you’re going,” and “if you’re a tourist and paying cash, you ought to be scared Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, August 10th, 2007
Under: 511, Bridges, driving, Freeways, Funding, tolls | 2 Comments »

gold and silver we have none, have we none …


I wanted to believe that the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis would spark a renaissance in infrastructure maintenance.

 To any causal observer, it has. There are bills in Congress, inspections by Caltrans and panel discussiosn on the radio talking about this terrible problem of how our highways, bridges, levees and aqueducts are so badly looked after that a major bridge can pitch commuters into the Mississippi during rush hour.

Silly me.

It isn’t the first time a big bridge has collapsed, and legislatures have been spurred to action, boldly proclaiming their Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, August 8th, 2007
Under: Bridges, Caltrans, driving, Freeways, Funding, Safety, tolls | 3 Comments »

no exit

I commute, therefore I am.

My apologies for disappearing for yet another hiatus. Last week I moved from a rental to the house we bought. It was supposed to have been Berkeley, from which I would have had what many would consider a normal commute to our large white office building near Oakland Coliseum.

Alas, my son signed up for biochemistry. That was my undoing.

Turns out it’s much more competitive than Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, July 31st, 2007
Under: Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), connectivity, driving, Freeways, Transit vs. driving | 5 Comments »

my 15 minutes


As if all my histrionics over the MacArthur Maze collapse weren’t enough, someone is making a movie about the April 29 gasoline tanker truck mishap.

I know this because they interviewed me today for the movie, and it was so cool.

The short movie, with the working title of “Amazing,” is being done by the same people who brought us the Emmy Award-winning “The Bridge So Far,” which featured my predecessor, Sean Holstege, as one of two journalist talking heads for the comedic documentary.

Sean, alas, has Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, July 11th, 2007
Under: art, Bay Bridge, Caltrans, driving, Freeway collapse, Freeways, Funding, Safety | No Comments »

cookin’ up HOT lanes

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I just received a news release from Newark Democratic Sen. Alberto Torrico, announcing success for legislation to speed up construction of HOT lanes through the Sunol Grade along I-680.

What are HOT lanes, you might ask?

They’re basically carpool lanes that allow carpools to drive free and toll-payers to drive solo. The idea is to make Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, July 10th, 2007
Under: Carpooling, driving, Freeways, Funding, Smart Lanes, tolls | 1 Comment »

FasTrak rat race

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It almost seems anticlimactic, but on Monday another grand experiment in behavioral science will commence on the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge.

The subjects of this experiment, we commuters, will be forced to wait in long lines to pay $4 cash tolls because the toll plaza will have two fewer cash lanes.

At the same time, the other rats in this maze — those with FasTrak electronic toll tags — will get to blow Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, July 6th, 2007
Under: Caltrans, driving, Freeways, Funding, tolls | 7 Comments »

what will they say about us in 2057?

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On the occasion of the recent 50th anniversary of the creation of the BART bureaucracy, I noted the prescience of members of the commission that decided the Bay Area really needed a rapid transit system. They said that new freeways, which Los Angeles had pinned its hopes on, could not solve traffic congestion by themselves.

Now BART is contemplating its next 50 years with the knowledge that those guys in 1957 were Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, June 22nd, 2007
Under: AC Transit, BART, Bay Bridge, Buses, Caltrans, Carpooling, driving, Freeways, Smart Lanes, tolls, Transit vs. driving | 3 Comments »

investors do their bit for California

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Sorry to have gone AWOL for so long. Was on vacation last week, and this week I have no excuse. Thanks for checking in spite of that.

Before vacation, I talked about California Treasurer Bill Lockyer’s effort to attract individual investors to buy some of the $43 billion worth of infrastructure bonds approved by voters in November.

Looks like he succeeded, getting Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, June 20th, 2007
Under: Carpooling, driving, Freeways, Funding | No Comments »

they saw this in 1957, luckily for us

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Behind every successful public service, there was an idea. That idea led to a proposal and that proposal led to a big bureaucracy that, whatever its faults, got the job accomplished.

Such is the case with the Bay Area Rapid Transit District, which was born by an act of the California legislature and governor on June 4, 1957.

BART, the entity, is now 50.

With the help of our librarian, I was able to find Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, June 4th, 2007
Under: BART, Freeway collapse, Freeways, Planning, rail, Transit vs. driving | 14 Comments »