Roadshow: Smog-belching pickup draws wrath of motorists

Q On our way to Tahoe the other day near Sacramento on Interstate 80, there was a pickup in front of us that had modified its exhaust so that it was sticking straight up out of the bed of his truck. It was pouring — and I do mean pouring — thick black smoke out of it. People were also scrambling to get away because it was nasty-smelling.

Is it legal to modify your exhaust like that? Could I have complained to someone about the stink?

Dixie Sala

Martinez

A Mrs. Roadshow and I may have seen this smoke-belching pickup. We were on I-80 a few weeks ago when suddenly cars ahead of us began braking hard and swerving into other lanes. There was so much smoke that I thought the truck was on fire.

Let’s categorize this in the perhaps-legal-but-incredibly-stupid category. When these trucks accelerate, exhaust pours out and can cause others on the road to take evasive action.

Here is what you can do:If you can get a license plate number, make, model and color of the truck, report it to the air resources board at www.arb.ca.gov/enf/complaints/smoke.htm. Or call the Air Resources Board at 800-END-SMOG (800-EXHAUST in the Bay Area).

Q I don’t know if you’ve seen the new TV PSA from the National Highway Traffic Safety group about distracted driving. Extremely graphic, but a powerful message. Perhaps you could put something in your column pointing to it so people, especially parents, can pass them on to those who think texting and driving isn’t a big deal.

It’s at www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_-6EoNhitg.

Tony DiBenedetto

San Jose

A Saw it. It is powerful.

Q Oh guru of traffic, can you tell me if there is help on the way for the intersection of Pacific Avenue and Beach Street in Santa Cruz? This is in front of the wharf and near the boardwalk, where traffic is a nightmare, particularly during the summer. Between pedestrians, bikes and cars, this area is a mess. In addition, jaywalkers help turn this into chaos. Anything planned to help us poor residents?

Don Pearson

Santa Cruz

A You bet there is. The city could begin construction this fall on a roundabout to deal with this complicated intersection, which includes a train crossing, a heavily used bike lane and thousands of pedestrians. The $900,000 job is contingent on an agreement with the railroad operator and the state Public Utilities Commission.

Q I read your column Thursday about the merging problems at the ramps at 101 and 880 and the changes Caltrans has made. It’s much safer when traffic is flowing now that it has been re-striped!

Ruth Merino

San Jose

A That’s the kind of feedback I like to receive.

 

Q When is construction of the new traffic lights on Oregon Expressway going to be complete? It seems to have been going on for months too long.

Don Manoogian

Danville

A There have been a bunch of unusual construction delays. The new signals should be working around Labor Day.

Contact Gary Richards at mrroadshow@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5335.