San Francisco Chronicle

Nightmare I-580 commute could persist

- By Ricardo Cano Reach Ricardo Cano: ricardo.cano@sfchronicl­; Twitter: @ByRicardoC­ano

One of the worst commutes in the Bay Area became a nightmare Wednesday afternoon as eastbound traffic on Interstate 580 near Livermore slowed to a standstill.

The severe afternoon congestion could be a preview of traffic headaches to come for commuters on 580 as state transporta­tion workers try to repair major storm damage to one of the region’s busiest freeways.

Transporta­tion officials on Tuesday closed the two right lanes on a segment of eastbound I-580 near Flynn Road after about 25 feet of retaining wall collapsed and a crack formed in the fourth eastbound lane.

Officials warned commuters to expect delays on eastbound 580 for weeks — perhaps months — as the highway undergoes repairs.

Spokespeop­le for Caltrans, the state’s department of transporta­tion, said the agency planned to make a striping change to return a fourth lane for traffic before making other short-term fixes in the coming weeks.

Eastbound 580 traffic remained reduced to three lanes and severe congestion began to ensnarl the highway shortly after 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. By 4 p.m., commuters on the Waze app reported bumper-tobumper traffic starting at Isabel Avenue in Livermore through most of the highway over Altamont Pass.

Navigation apps reported up to an hour of congestion delays on eastbound I-580 on Wednesday afternoon, including heavy traffic on Altamont Pass Road as some commuters used detours in futile attempts to bypass delays.

The traffic delays were so pronounced that Google Maps was directing Dublin commuters bound for Modesto to avoid 580 and instead drive on the curvy and narrow Tesla Road to save time.

I-580 is the main highway connecting the Bay Area to the Central Valley and was notorious pre-pandemic for its massive congestion on weekdays, when tens of thousands of Valley residents would brave hours-long drives for work.

The embrace of hybrid work means that I-580 no longer sees the same spikes in congestion on weekday mornings and evenings as it did in 2019. But motorists who travel on Altamont Pass should brace for a return to those congestion-ridden days as Caltrans officials say the stretch of highway could require a full rebuild.

 ?? Santiago Mejia/The Chronicle ?? A section of the highway cracked and a retaining wall tumbled down a rain-soaked hill.
Santiago Mejia/The Chronicle A section of the highway cracked and a retaining wall tumbled down a rain-soaked hill.

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