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Archive for the 'tolls' Category

for whom the debt tolls

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In his first report on the California’s indebtedness, state treasurer Bill Lockyer’s graphic artist elicited a few chuckles at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, a.k.a the Bay Area Toll Authority.

The Debt Affordability Report has a lovely picture of hands holding binoculars, the right lens containing the Bay Bridge’s $1 billion skyway section and the left fitted with the $1.43 billion Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, October 1st, 2007
Under: Bay Bridge, Bridges, Caltrans, driving, Funding, Retrofitting, Safety, tolls | No Comments »

the real change on the Bay Bridge

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Throughout last weekend and the week before, I was constantly shaking off attempts to write anything about FasTrak changes on the Bay Bridge.

Why? Because it’s boring. Moving a 6,700-ton slab of earthquake-stressed concrete two stories in the air is a lot more compelling. At any other time, I would have been all over the FasTrak story.

It’s not just that I had better things to do. It’s that it’s difficult to look at that map and say what’s so different about it. They’ve moved some lanes around, they’ve added one and they’ve made the approach lanes longer by 2,000 feet.

The latter change I think most regulars will agree is a big improvement. I’m a Carquinez user myself, and I was positively bubbling Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, September 6th, 2007
Under: 511, art, Bay Bridge, Bridges, Caltrans, driving, Freeways, Funding, maps, tolls | No 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 »

giving in to gephyrophobia

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I must confess that I’m one of those people who is both fascinated and frightened by bridges.

Maybe it’s my acrophobia, although in my defense I must say it’s not exactly against human nature to fear falling from a high place, prehistoric cliff dwellers notwithstanding.

Then again, there’s the fact that I’m a relative newbie to the Bay Area, so I don’t think about all those years of living here without a major earthquake. When I cross the Bay Bridge, I think about the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, the 50-foot bridge deck that came loose and the upper deck of the Cypress Structure that crushed Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, August 3rd, 2007
Under: Bay Bridge, Bridges, Safety, Smart Lanes, tolls | 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 »

end of the maze craze

maze-ironworkers-photo-3-by-thinh-vo.jpgIt was 5:50 p.m. when I got the call from my source, whom I’ll identify only as General “I shall return” MacArthur.

“Unofficially — not for publication — I recommend that you be at the Bay Bridge Toll Plaza no later than 7:45.”

With a new sense of urgency, something not engendered by mere deadlines and editors hoping beyond hope to spend time with their families,  I finished my story about how, after a gasoline tanker conflagration April 29 claimed

Photo of Christie Constructors ironworkers by Thinh Vo.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, May 24th, 2007
Under: Bay Bridge, Caltrans, driving, Freeway collapse, Freeways, high-speed rail, Safety, tolls | 1 Comment »

spare the hair day

sunday-demolition-by-dean-coppola-contra-costa-times.jpgWhile free public transportation offered on Spare the Air days was an experiment in social engineering with mixed results (10 percent jump in ridership, but disappointing smog prevention for the high cost), this afternoon we are about to see a much more compelling combination of carrot and stick getting cars off the roads.

It’s the sort of scenario that transit advocates dream of: Make it more painful to drive and less painful to ride BART, buses and ferries. No free parking downtown for commuters, variable Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, April 30th, 2007
Under: BART, Buses, driving, Environment, ferries, Freeway collapse, Freeways, Funding, parking, rail, Safety, Smart Lanes, tolls, Transit vs. driving | 2 Comments »