Watch for cone zones com­ing and go­ing to Lake Ta­hoe

The Mercury News Weekend - - NEWS - Gary Richards Colum­nist Look for Gary Richards at Face­­show or con­tact him at mr­road­show@ba­yare­anews­


On a re­cent Sun­day from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m., I suf­fered bumperto-bumper traffic on High­way 50 from In­ter­state 80 in West Sacra­mento. It took al­most an hour to go 10 miles.

Of course, Cal­trans chose to work on the busiest night of the week when peo­ple are re­turn­ing from Ta­hoe or Reno. They squeezed four lanes of cars and trucks into one lane. Thou­sands of ve­hi­cles do­ing stop-andgo, driv­ing with en­gines idling.

A few­months ago they worked af­ter 10 p.m. on Fri­day nights on I-80 east from Her­cules to Crock­ett caus­ing long back­ups. That is the busiest night when peo­ple are go­ing to Ta­hoe. If they must work nights, take peak traffic nights off. — Win­field Schu­bert, Oak­land


Cal­trans says you have your facts right. The rea­son there is work at night and on week­ends is be­cause week­day and week­night travel is much heav­ier com­pared to night­time traffic on the week­end. These projects will con- tinue be­cause soon bad win­ter weather will halt all work, and these con­trac­tors and crews want to get the projects com­pleted be­fore rain and snow re­ally hits.


I drove In­ter­state 5 from the Bay Area to Ore­gon re­cently, and noted the un­pro­tected me­dian from Corn­ing to Red Bluff. I’m cu­ri­ous as to Cal­trans’ per­spec­tive on the need for build­ing a me­dian bar­rier along I-5. — Brian Berg, Saratoga


Cal­trans says traffic and col­li­sion data does not war­rant the need to con­struct a me­dian bar­rier on I-5 be­tween I-505 in Yolo County and the Te­hama County line. The me­dian area is wide enough to al­low a clear re­cov­ery zone where a driver who may veer off the road has enough room to safely get back onto the road. There are rum­ble strips on the in­ter­state to alert drivers if they veer off the pave­ment.

Two decades ago, prompted by a se­ries of fa­tal ac­ci­dents on High­way 85 in Santa Clara County, the state be­gan adding bar­ri­ers on 400 miles of high-vol­ume free­ways with me­di­ans up to 75 feet wide — nearly dou­bling the pre­vi­ous stan­dard, which called for guardrails or con­crete bar­ri­ers only if a me­dian was less than 46 feet wide or if it had a high rate of cross- over ac­ci­dents.

The I-5 me­dian is more than 75 feet wide and has few cross­over crashes.


Driv­ing back from Los An­ge­les, we en­coun­tered many, many three abreast truck block­ades climb­ing the steep grade from Magic Moun­tain to Tem­plin High­way on In­ter­state 5. There were so many, this must be reg­u­lar prac­tice. It re­ally slows traffic with three of four lanes blocked. I thought this was il­le­gal, but no CHP any­where. — Jim Sut­ton, Saratoga


It is il­le­gal. Trucks are lim­ited to the two right lanes.

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