Public Meeting Tonight in San Ramon on Proposed I-680 Express Lanes in Walnut Creek

January 30, 2014 · 39 comments

Bay Area transportation officials will meet with the public in San Ramon this evening to discuss a plan to put more express lanes on Interstate Highway 680 in an effort to keep traffic moving.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission and Caltrans are proposing converting current high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes into express lanes that would be open to solo motorists willing to pay a toll, according to the MTC.

The express lanes would replace HOV lanes on southbound Highway 680 from Rudgear Road in Walnut Creek to Alcosta Boulevard in San Ramon and on northbound Highway 680 from Alcosta Boulevard to the Livorna Road exit in Alamo.

MTC officials say the express lanes would be free for the same motorists currently allowed in HOV lanes, including carpools, vanpools and buses, and would also be open to solo drivers who pay a toll to use the lane.

The proposed changes are intended to ease congestion on the busy commuter highway, where traffic is projected to slow by about 5 miles per hour during peak morning commute hours and by about 10 miles during the evening commute by 2015, according to Lisa Klein, manager of the MTC’s Express Lanes program.

Community members are invited to learn more about the express lanes proposal and provide their input at an MTC meeting from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. today at the San Ramon Community Center at Central Park, located at 12501 Alcosta Blvd.

Those who cannot attend in person are invited to visit an online public meeting at www.BAIFAexpresslanes.org held today through Feb. 13.

1 They Just Want More OF Your Money January 30, 2014 at 2:55 PM

Just a step away from TOLL Roads.

2 mike mac January 30, 2014 at 3:00 PM

“Proposed changes”? As if any community opposition will make a difference. This is just a new way to tax drivers.

3 WC Boy January 30, 2014 at 3:03 PM

NO!

4 bob January 30, 2014 at 3:09 PM

If they would focus on fixing dysfunction junction and the on-ramps and off-ramps that are causing the congestion, there wouldn’t be a need to convert the HOV lane to a toll-lane. Obviously the Bay Area Transportation officials don’t know anything about the traffic flow on 680 north. Who cares if you can get to Livorna faster if it then takes another 30 minutes to get past the interchange, which is only a few miles away.
For 680 South they should work on connecting the HOV lane that ends at Alcosta to the one that begins in Sunol.

5 Jaded January 30, 2014 at 3:12 PM

So a solo commuter should have to pay for a lane they have already paid for? What a scam.

6 The4thBore January 30, 2014 at 3:23 PM

Can’t say they are building this where folks can’t pay the extra fare.. This does lower the benefits of carpooling the area, and may render the time savings null over time as more solo drivers pay the ransom. Why not look into running overhead BART through the region to meet with the Pleasanton line? This area is flooded with commuters, but somehow has never thought about mass transit.. I smell nimbyism politics me thinks..

7 The law say's January 30, 2014 at 3:27 PM

that they have to put on a dog and pony show for the (muffled laugh) honored citizens.

The plans are already a done deal. Public input is just an minor inconvenience to them.

They don’t give a darn what voters think, voters are stupid.

8 Always Right January 30, 2014 at 3:29 PM

Kinda takes the “free” out of freeway, doesn’t it?

Typical big govmint money grab.

9 Julio January 30, 2014 at 3:29 PM

MORONS

10 Lessons learned... January 30, 2014 at 3:37 PM

Call them what they are , toll roads. They have
been around in the east forever.
Money money money!

11 Silva January 30, 2014 at 3:44 PM

Caltrans always gets their way. This is the only agency I’d advise just don’t bother with, it won’t make a bit of difference what anyone has to say about it. It’s a done deal.

12 AnniMouse January 30, 2014 at 3:47 PM

I’m with Jaded #5 on this one. Taxes paid include roads/highways, and if I’m solo I can’t drive a lane on a road that I’ve already paid for? Ridiculous.

13 . January 30, 2014 at 3:48 PM

I’m sure DeSaulnier is behind it….and looking to get the lane named after him…

14 gimli January 30, 2014 at 4:11 PM

Call it the “single occupant BMW lane.” :)

15 VikingPrincess January 30, 2014 at 4:14 PM

Lets hope they get caught up on their previous financial commitments and plans
http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_25029503/homeowners-sue-walnut-creek-over-storm-drain-problems

Amazing how long this dragged on an all because a long gone former employee couldn’t add?

Yeah..right

16 Rob January 30, 2014 at 4:20 PM

Will they limit the number of passes that will be sold or will they sell as many as possible even if it overwhelms the “Express” lanes?

17 Mark January 30, 2014 at 4:42 PM

Shouldn’t all lanes be open to all motorists. Fewer cars in an express lane means more in the remaining lanes. Longer commutes for the majority. More pollution for everybody. Not only is it not fair, it’s not smart.

18 JKI January 30, 2014 at 4:53 PM

I don’t have an final opinion on this at the moment. My comment is pointed towards the fact that this Express Lane scenario is “proposed”, but MTC behaves as if it is a done deal. Who has final approval power? They have a significant public outreach effort, designed to make it easier to swallow. On publicly available documents, transportation officials are very sensitive to public support and/or public opposition, and want to get local reporters and city figures to support it on MTC’s behalf. It will presented as a cool “option” for non-HOV users when on a time sensitive trip. The fact is that the express lanes are indeed designed to generate revenue – when the lanes they are using have already been funded by all taxpayers, previously? Where the additional money/profits will go, why lanes that are currently no cost will become fare-required, the actual pricing structure ( they won’t say till right before the lanes become active, due to “marketing needs”) etc., are all concerns. MTC will suggest that some of the profits will go towards more express lanes. Those newer Express Lanes will then generate more profit that will go to who? They propose to wrap the Bay in toll lanes.

19 Googlar January 30, 2014 at 5:09 PM

Just ban poor people from the road. Only rich people should drive on roads.

20 . January 30, 2014 at 5:10 PM

C’mon mark #17….

This is a political issue. Nobody claimed it was “smart.”

21 WCGator January 30, 2014 at 6:18 PM

But can we use the freeway during the “No burn days ?”

22 anon January 30, 2014 at 6:53 PM

Wasn’t there a proposal a while back to charge all drivers by the mileage they drive?

23 Reality Slap January 30, 2014 at 6:53 PM

The lanes were built under a premise to ease traffic congestion for those who meet the carpool minimum, now they would allow anyone who is willing to pay extra use the lane completely disregarding the occupancy minimum. Ahhhh, back to traffic congestion for everyone, even those who follow the original rules of HOV. Pure ass money grab. Comment 14 and 21, excellent.

24 LC January 30, 2014 at 7:04 PM

Mark #17 I couldn’t agree more! ALL LANES SHOULD BE OPEN TO ALL PEOPLE! The remaining lanes are more congested as there are fewer people in the express/HOV lanes. So much for “free” freeways!
Oh it’s the MTV and Caltrans again. Aren’t they the ones who approved the new Bay Bridge that we have to pay a fortune for to get it fixed?

25 Just me January 30, 2014 at 8:50 PM

If anyone has seen the toll road over at the Sunol grade you would know that once the lane becomes a toll lane it is never open for general traffic. Even on the weekends.

They effectively remove a complete lane from the freeway for general traffic permanently.

While the current carpool lanes have a time period that they are carpool only. The toll road will constantly charge. Weekends, holidays, 2am. You will need to pay to use this toll lane and should you get caught without a fasttrak it’s a ticket.

These toll lanes are bad news. It can cost in upwards of 3-4 dollars to travel a few miles at peak travel times.

26 Brian January 30, 2014 at 8:54 PM

@Mirelall, you do know you can get a FasTrak online in like 10 minutes right? You must have some time, since you are on this site..

27 Class warfare; haves vs have nots January 30, 2014 at 8:55 PM

The 1% can afford to pay extra, while the have nots suffer in the congested remaining lanes.

28 Just me January 30, 2014 at 8:59 PM

Also. Carpool lanes were created to benefit those that chose to ride together and thus reduce pollution from vehicles and help the environment. what message are they sending where they’re willing to let anyone use these lanes for a price?

Guess the message now is the environment can be overlooked for a couple bucks per car per day

29 Steve Harris January 30, 2014 at 9:26 PM

It will be gridlock on every lane but the pay express lane. Seen them in the South Bay, these lanes do nothing but make traffic worse. If it doesn’t work there, why do they think it will work here? Something desperately needs to be done, although this is not the answer. Maybe chaining the Creekian Workers to their desks until after 6 p.m. might ease some congestion. (Sarcasm)

30 The camel gets it's nose under the tent January 30, 2014 at 9:27 PM

once that happens, there’s no stopping it, and the same with toll roads. Once up and established, kiss our “FREE”way system adios.

31 ClayDen January 31, 2014 at 12:08 AM

@Just me 29

Using your logic, they should ban hybrids and electric cars from the car pool lane, as they pollute less than the other cars in stop and go traffic. The heaviest polluters should be the only ones allowed in the car pool lanes to reduce pollution the most.

Social engineering at its finest.

32 Concorddad January 31, 2014 at 7:05 AM

I’m ok with the lanes being a carpool or electric type cars. This encourages people to carpool. I am not ok with Lexus lanes. We all pay for these roads and should not be limited. Don’t we have the rich running us over enough?

33 anon January 31, 2014 at 8:09 AM

If it’s monitored like fast trak, I am in. I saw the on-line presentation and it was pretty good. Single riders are already in the commute late and if this means they get caught then great.
If it remotely helps with my commute then great.

34 RumDog January 31, 2014 at 9:01 AM

This will just give more people the excuse
to slow down, enjoy the view, and use Danville
Highway, or whatever that one is called that
runs from around Rudgear to Crow Canyon.

35 Idiocracy January 31, 2014 at 11:53 AM

Widen the Freeways, Pull people over for going slow in the fast lane. Get off your phone at rush hour. I wonder how many people can even walk with the poor driving skills displayed daily on the streets of CA. If your retired stay off the road during rush hour please lol. Population is growing very fast around here and now illegals have legit Licenses. So many slow pokes hitting their breaks at rush hour. We don’t need this Pay lane we need more lanes. If your gonna drive like miss daisy stay in the far right lane.

36 android user January 31, 2014 at 11:57 AM

need to get there quickly with my s500. whatever it takes!

37 A January 31, 2014 at 12:03 PM

More grid lock on the other lanes. Not a good spot for a toll lane.

38 Anon February 1, 2014 at 6:29 AM

End all HOV lanes, return them to normal use. That and removing all unlicensed drivers should help quite a bit.

39 FasTrac February 1, 2014 at 9:08 AM

@Mirelall #30

I bought mine at the customer service counter at Safeway. Had an extra $5.00 in it.
Go online and activate it and you can have one today.
Just make sure you register the license plate number yours or any car you want when you activate it. Then if you forget it or drive another family car without it, you won’t be fined.

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