Bay Bridge toll plaza. (Ray Chavez/The Oakland Tribune)
Q If I stay too long at my mom’s house in Danville, I can expect that only a couple of far right cash lanes on the Benicia Bridge will be open late after 8 p.m. and traffic will be insanely backed up. Nobody cares what the issue is (too few toll takers be damned)! At $5 a toll per car, this seems moronic.
What is going on with our bridge dummies and how long do they intend for this to go on?
A I’m afraid the answer is yes, and delays are beginning earlier.
Q A number of days in the last few weeks the Benicia Bridge has backed up in evening rush hour even though there are high-speed automatic toll lanes for FasTrak. It seems as though the pay lanes on the right are understaffed and do not have enough toll lanes open for those who do not have FasTrak yet. Are there plans to just eliminate the toll lanes like the Golden Gate Bridge has done? Or why don’t they staff all the toll lanes during rush hour?
A Bridge officials are reducing the number of toll takers at times they believe they are not needed on all state-owned bridges with the exception of the Bay Bridge.
Eventually, all toll takers will be removed but that is several years away from happening.
At the Benicia-Martinez Bridge, there are nine cash/FasTrak lanes on the right side of the toll plaza, but sometimes as many as six lack toll takers. Here’s the current night schedule for cash/FasTrak lanes:
Monday through Thursday: 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., 3 lanes open; after 10 p.m., 2 lanes open.
Friday: 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., 4 lanes open; after 10:30 p.m., 3 lanes open.
Saturday: 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., 5 Lanes open; after 10:30 p.m., 3 lanes open
Sunday: 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., 5 Lanes open; 9:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., 4 lanes open; after 11 p.m., 2 lanes open.
A suggestion: Get FasTrak and then you can zip through the left lanes without stopping.
Q While traveling on the Benicia Bridge, a.k.a the George Miller Memorial Bridge, something struck me as being odd. George Miller is still alive and kicking. Isn’t the term “memorial” reserved for a person that is deceased? If this is true then why not just call the Benicia Bridge the “George Miller Bridge?” I would love an answer to this oddity.
A This is an oddity. In 1962, the southbound bridge was named for former state Senator George Miller, Jr., who died in 1969. Then in 2007, the northbound bridge was named the Congressman George Miller Bridge, after the late senator’s son, who is very much alive and about to retire.
State rules say “a person being honored with a naming must be deceased, except in the instance of elected officials, in which case they must be out of office.” Bridge officials interpret this as referring only to statewide offices, not members of Congress.
Q They painted numbers on the parking spots a few weeks ago at the North Concord BART station. I am guessing the free parking days are over. Do you have any information on when they are going to start charging and how much?
A A $2-a-day parking fee will begin this fall at the North Concord station. No specific date has yet been set for it to begin.
Daily parking fees are re-evaluated every six months, based on the occupancy of the parking facility. Costs for permits and fees may either increase or decrease by 50 cents a day, depending on whether parking is above or below 95 percent capacity.
There is a daily fee maximum of $3 at all stations, with the exception of West Oakland, which does not have a cap and will go to $6.50 a day in July. And next month a 50-cent daily parking fee increase will be put in place at numerous BART stations.
Q Also I noticed the motorcycle stalls are not numbered at the Concord station. Free parking for motorcycles?
A Yep. Parking for motorcycles at BART stations is free.
Q I make a left turn on San Tomas Expressway from El Camino daily. There is only one lane for left turns and it can take six minutes for that turn. Can they increase the number of turning lanes?
A Three projects are coming to ease traffic concerns.
First, San Tomas will be widened from El Camino to Homestead Road to eight lanes, the San Tomas pedestrian/bike trail extension will go from El Camino to Homestead, and double left turns will be installed at San Tomas and El Camino in all four directions.
Net effect is that San Tomas from El Camino to Homestead will be under construction late this year.
Q I think the interchange at Lawrence/280/Stevens Creek is going to be worse than ever after the new Apple campus opens. It’s always been a bottleneck but it is so much worse now, with all the new businesses that have popped up. Any plans for that to get fixed to allow more cars to exit 280 and Lawrence?
A Yes. Apple will be building an additional northbound left-turn lane and a dedicated right-turn lane, resulting in two exclusive left-turn lanes, a shared through-left turn lane, a shared through-right turn lane, and an exclusive right-turn lane.