With cows grazing in a not-so-distant hillside and big rigs whizzing by, officials broke ground today on new carpool lanes that will be constructed along Interstate 580's often bottlenecked corridor through Livermore and Pleasanton.
The Alameda County Congestion Management Agency, in a joint effort with Caltrans and other local agencies, have begun work on a fifth eastbound lane, from Hacienda Drive to Greenville Road. The project is expected to cost $153.9 million and will be partially financed by funds from Proposition 1B, the $20-billion bond measure voters approved in 2006 to relieve traffic congestion.
Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty warned that traffic conditions were "going to get worse before (they) get better," but said the improvements are a vital part of reducing gridlock and improving air quality in the region.
Haggerty added that a large part of the congestion is due to big rigs passing through the corridor delivering goods to the Port of Oakland. Those deliveries are expected to triple over time, he said.
Congressman Jerry McNerney (D-Pleasanton) thanked Haggerty for his effort to bring the project to fruition.
"I know how hard it is," he said. "Parents are kept away from their families," sitting in traffic.
"This is a very important part of our national infrastructure," he added.
State Sen. Ellen Corbett, (D-San Leandro) said she and other state senators are lobbying for a budget that will fund these types of infrastructure projects.
Will Kempton, director of Caltrans, echoed that sentiment, saying if a budget doesn't get passed, there will be serious impacts.
In consecutive years, the eastbound and westbound portions of 580 from Pleasanton to Livermore have ranked in the top four most congested roadways in the Bay Area.
The project will be constructed in two parts: part one will be from Hacienda Drive to the Portola Road overcrossing and part two will be from the overcrossing to Greenville Road. The eastbound high-occupancy lane is expected to be completed in 2010. When the project is finished, there will be express bus/carpool lanes along the 11-mile corridor. The project also includes new pavement across all lanes.
The groundbreaking was the second in as many days. Yesterday, officials held a ceremony for improvements to Vasco Road, a major thoroughfare between Livermore and Brentwood.
Haggerty, joined by local, state and federal officials, lauded the $22-million project, which includes installing median barriers, a new road alignment and grade, wider shoulders and truck and bus climbing lanes. The improvements are expected to improve safety and better gridlock. Funding was financed through state and federal, and Prop. 1B monies, among others. The work will be finished in early 2010.
Vasco Road traffic volumes have increased more than 45 percent in the last decade to more than 25,000 vehicles per day. The thoroughfare is also dangerous, causing numerous accidents.