Drivers may wait until 2020 to get transponders for I-880
QI was searching the MTC and FasTrak websites but saw no estimated dates for when the Interstate 880 carpool lanes will convert to express lanes. I want to get a transponder in anticipation of the change, but not invest in the security fee and account minimum balance just to have it collect dust in my glove box waiting for the lanes to open. Can you find out more information on when they will convert? — Margherite Lebbert
AEarly 2020 is the latest estimate. The southbound express lane will stretch from Hegenberger Road in Oakland to Dixon Landing Road in Milpitas where it will link up to the Highway 237 toll lane. The northbound express lane will extend from 237 to Lewelling Boulevard in San Lorenzo.
QI have been commuting from Benicia to Sunnyvale for over 10 years, and pay to use the express lane to save a few minutes on Highway 237, which is almost always dreadful. Why have the traffic gods situated the signage that displays the price or ‘”HOV Only” at the last possible point of entry? Going southbound on Interstate 880, more than once I have had to navigate a six-lane change to the left only to find that signs say HOV only, requiring me to immediately make a six-lane change to the right. This seems inordinately dangerous to me. Your thoughts?
A— Lyn Campbell, Benicia Normally these signs are one-fourth of a mile from where you need to decide to enter an express lane, but at 880-237 it’s almost a half-mile, giving drivers more time to make their move.
The distance won’t be changed, but VTA recommends drivers who may want to access the express lane shouldn’t start from the farthest lane from the right. I- 880 is a six-lane freeway here — the two far right lanes are the exit lanes to 237 for solo drivers without FasTrak. A driver who wants to get into the express lane flyover ramp should be in lane No. 2 to see the price and decide if you wish to enter. The driver then has a halfmile to either enter or head back to lane No. 5 to exit to 237 in the lanes carrying solo drivers.
The “HOV Only” message comes on when the express lane experiences low speeds due to congestion ahead. This equates to an average of about 20 minutes per day.
QI saw your remark on a reader’s question about putting decorations on an overpass over a highway. Well, there is a large Christmas wreath over the Yerba Buena Island tunnel entrance on westbound Interstate 80 going into San Francisco. I am curious if this is legal. Regardless of the legality, I enjoyed seeing it.
A— David Ogilvie, South San Francisco This is OK. It’s a joint effort by the MTC and Caltrans to get into the holiday spirit. Bring on the eggnog.