Roadshow: Metering on Highway 85 may provide relief

Q I make the long journey from Gilroy to Mountain View every morning along north Highway 101, and one big problem is the lack of Caltrans use of the metering lights at the 85 ramp to 101 right after Shoreline Boulevard. There is a constant flow of traffic that merges onto 101 from 85, causing a large, slow backup on 101.

Chris Moniz, Peter Wallack, Roy da Silva and so many more

A So many more over so many years. In 1992, Charles Tanaka of Cupertino was the first, writing that the northbound 85 ramp from Fremont Avenue is “the big bottleneck in the morning commute and the logical place for a metering light.”

He was so right, and this fall — 22 years later — most of the meters on 85 will be turned on. The northbound 85 to north 101 meter may be turned on later when the meters now being installed on north 101 from Mathilda Avenue to Embarcadero Road are activated. There are a more than a dozen ramps that will have metering equipment installed between 280 and 101 on 85, and many ramps will be widened.

Q Will there be a diamond lane reward for carpoolers when meters are installed on the ramps on north 85 from I-280 to 101?

Paul Besser

Sunnyvale

A Yes, there will be carpool lanes added to the onramps at Fremont Avenue and El Camino Real.

Q Will there be a carpool lane on the ramp from north 280 to north 85? It looks like there’s room.

Martha Franklin

San Jose

A No. The ramp will be widened to three lanes with meters, but no carpool bypass lane.

Q I watched with anticipation the much ballyhooed building of the fancy Highway 85 ramp to 101. The PR message was that it would greatly reduce congestion on 101 north. But the congestion became WORSE THAN EVER, and remains so years later. Is anyone accountable for this extra fancy mess?

Diane Farrar

Palo Alto

A I think you are asking the wrong question. It should be: How much worse would traffic on 101 be if the new interchange had not been built? Traffic on 85 bound for Shoreline Boulevard no longer dumps directly onto 101 first as it previously did, for example.

But traffic remains a mess. Turning on those meters from city streets to 85 between 280 and 101 will help, but the biggie will be turning on the freeway-to-freeway meters from 85 to 101. Motorists on 85 may howl when that happens, but 101 drivers may see an easing of their delays.

Q Will the metering lights turn off on Highway 85 at 9 a.m. as they do now on other sections of 85, or will they be working until 10 as they do on sections of 101?

Felix Hayes

A It’ll be 9 a.m.

Q Are afternoon carpool hours in effect on Lawrence Expressway north of 101? I haven’t seen the carpool sign come on, so I’m not sure if it’s broken or no longer applicable on this stretch before 237.

Brian Huynh

Newark

A The Lawrence carpool lane north of 101 was converted into a lane for all drivers several years ago.

Look for Gary Richards at Facebook.com/mr.roadshow, follow him at Twitter.com/mrroadshow or contact him at mrroadshow@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5335.