News


New metering lights leave some drivers red

Caltrans activated lights today on westbound 580 from Grant Line Road in Tracy to Foothill/San Ramon Road in Pleasanton

On-ramp metering lights were turned on for the first time during this morning's commute along westbound Interstate 580 and the signals caused many commuters to see red in more ways than one.

Caltrans installed the lights recently and turned them on a week ago, leaving them on green so drivers would be aware that they would be operating soon. But their first day in operation didn't go so smooth. Steven Williams, a spokesman with Caltrans, said Tuesday was problematic for both drivers and the transportation department, but said crews are working out the kinks. At the Airway Boulevard on-ramp, Williams said mechanical problems caused the lights to stay on red. To make matters worse, he said three times the normal traffic volume was reported at that particular ramp.

"The major part of the backup there was because people used Airway who don't normally use it," he said. "We know exactly how many cars use it every day, every hour and we had a 300 percent increase this morning because they were bypassing their normal on-ramp because they saw bottlenecks. You combine that with a mechanical problem and that is what causes the backup."

Some Pleasanton residents reported the effects of the metering lights on local streets, with backups in traffic along the city's major thoroughfares--Stanley Boulevard, Vineyard Avenue, Bernal Avenue, Valley Avenue, Stoneridge Drive and Hopyard Road--from drivers who avoided the freeway due to congestion there from the new system that went on line.

The metering lights are located at the ramps from Grant Line Road in Tracy west to the Foothill/San Ramon interchange in Pleasanton and Dublin. They will operate from 5 to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday.

The signals operate on an eight-second cycle during peak commute hours and taper off to six seconds after 9 a.m., when traffic is much lighter, Williams said. The system regulates the number of vehicles on the freeway at any given time so that cars don't experience a backup once they merge on.

Caltrans crews will be deployed tomorrow morning to assess the traffic loads and the signals' operations so that there isn't a repeat of this morning's headaches.

"There's no way of knowing (what problems will occur) until you've actually activated the lights," Williams said. "You can't test traffic signals when you have live traffic."

The 11 metering signals cost $100,000 each, which Williams said is a relatively small cost considering the price tag of other freeway improvements. The eastbound portion of 580 received metering lights in January, which operate for the afternoon commute, 2:30 to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday from Foothill/San Ramon Road to Greenville Road.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of Livermore
on Sep 16, 2008 at 7:12 pm

I use the Airway Boulevard interchange with my daily commute. A 5 minute trip from the house to the freeway took 35 minutes today. Saw quite a few people making illegal left turns and using the carpool lane to get on the freeway. I don't blame them. I have several co-workers that spent 45 minutes waiting in traffic before getting on the freeway at North Livermore and Vasco Roads.

Once on the freeway I didn't notice a change at all. All but stopped before the El Charro overpass.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Waster
a resident of another community
on Sep 16, 2008 at 7:44 pm

What a waste of time and money. Why don't they focusing their money (our taxpayer's money) on adding REAL lanes. We don't need carpool lanes or metering lights to slow people down - we need more lanes that everyone can use for smoother traffic.

I say don't stop at the lights and don't listen to the car pool signs.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Livermore
on Sep 16, 2008 at 9:32 pm

From the article it sure sounds like the first day didn't exactly go to plan. However, I think we should wait a few weeks before passing judgement. When caltrans turned on the meters in the eastbound direction last year the same thing happened - El Charro in particular has a line a mile or more long. After a few days Caltrans and commuters made their adjustments and the backup dropped significantly. I can also say that the eastbound freeway is much better than it was a year ago.

I will say that, if ramp metering doesn't work and these issues continue to be a problem, I hope that caltrans will rethink their approach and make the necessary changes.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hapyy
a resident of another community
on Sep 17, 2008 at 1:37 pm

I commute from Tracy and I must say that the new metering lights do work. The last 2 days my commute has been cut from 50+ min down to less than 30 min.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by DocFeelGood
a resident of Val Vista
on Sep 17, 2008 at 2:53 pm

I think also the lights will work, once the bugs are out of the system. There still needs to be more lanes on 580 E and W. This will hopefully keep the commuters from running through the city streets.

Its commuting and it sucks, I know... did it for 8 yrs....


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Karen
a resident of Livermore
on Sep 18, 2008 at 10:51 am

I always take Airway and it added another 15 minutes to my commute today. I will be taking Pleasanton city streets from now on. Congrats Cal Trans - hope that was what you were aiming for!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Julie
a resident of Livermore
on Sep 18, 2008 at 1:45 pm

I for one do not like the lights. They have added another 25 minutes to my commute to SF.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Sep 18, 2008 at 9:27 pm

Stay the course...that means that if you keep you car between your 2 headlights, then you cannot get off course. STAY THE COURSE!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by tracy
a resident of Amador Estates
on Sep 19, 2008 at 3:06 pm

The metering lights save me around 20 minutes on my commute from Tracy. Keep up the great work Caltrans!!!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by not a commuter
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Sep 20, 2008 at 12:26 pm

If you drive the Pleasanton city streets be aware that the police are aggressively citing speeders, as they should. And for those who drive the Stanley/First St/Sunol route a word of advice. The left turn lane on First Street is not your personal passing lane. Stay out of it unless you are coming out of or turning into a driveway on First Street or making a left turn on Arendt. Left turners at Neal have a turn lane close to the intersection. You are being watched, you will be cited.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Doubled my commute
a resident of Livermore
on Sep 23, 2008 at 8:04 am

It would appear that the lights will help those with long commutes and punish those who paid to live closer to work and reduce the impact of their commute on themselves and the environment. Is Caltrans promoting the correct behavior with this system?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rae
a resident of Mohr Park
on Sep 23, 2008 at 9:48 am

Two words to complaining Livermore residents: BOO HOO! Commuters in Pleasanton have been living with metering lights for well over a year on the I580 traffic corridor. Until now, neither Livermore with its high density infill, nor Dublin with its 12,000 new housing units on the east side, have done anything to offset their commuter traffic dumping onto the freeway. Kinda funny to read the complaints about the traffic backing up on Livermore streets, especially when both towns have been quite vocal about their right to use Pleasanton streets as commuter routes.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 23, 2008 at 9:57 am

Carpool!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by TR
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 24, 2008 at 2:35 pm

It would appear that the lights will help those with long commutes and punish those who paid to live closer to work and reduce the impact of their commute on themselves and the environment. Is Caltrans promoting the correct behavior with this system?
Posted by Doubled my commute, a resident of Livermore, on Sep 23, 2008 at 8:04 am





I agree....


 +   Like this comment
Posted by GS
a resident of Livermore
on Sep 25, 2008 at 6:58 am

It would appear that the lights will help those with long commutes and punish those who paid to live closer to work and reduce the impact of their commute on themselves and the environment. Is Caltrans promoting the correct behavior with this system?

Posted by Doubled my commute, a resident of Livermore, on Sep 23, 2008 at 8:04 am

I agree....

Posted by TR, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, 16 hours ago

I agree too. Does anyone know what our local government's role in these decisions and how can we communicate our feedback to them? We need additional freeway and local street capacity for our commutes, and not just shift traffic around with no net benefit.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Remax
a resident of another community
on Sep 25, 2008 at 7:35 am

I think everyone should sell their house in Pleasanton/Livermore and move to Tracy! That will fix your metering light problem!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Patricia
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Sep 26, 2008 at 10:44 am

They have these metering lights all over the Bay Area and they work fine. They'll work here too once people figure them out -- and IF people like Waster don't ignore them. Saw someone (Waster?) do that the other day and they nearly hit the person who had the green. I'm sure a whole bunch of accidents will REALLY speed things up!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rae
a resident of Mohr Park
on Sep 26, 2008 at 11:42 am

A big DUH!! to complaining Livermore Residents. The metering lights are MEANT to help keep the FREEWAY traffic moving - no matter where it's coming from. I return to Pleasanton from Livermore every morning during commute hours. Livermore commuters may not have noticed, but the morning commuter traffic dumping onto the I580 from every Livermore on-ramp (Vasco, First, N. Livermore, Portola) would bring the freeway to a standstill. The purpose of the metering lights is to METER the cars entering the freeway so that traffic, while moving slowly, doesn't come to a complete stop at each and every on-ramp. Makes sense to me.

And don't kid yourself. Given the ongoing buildouts in Dublin and Livermore, even infrastructure projects like additional freeway lanes, widening of SR84, and BART to Livermore are not going to solve the problem of keeping traffic moving on the I580. In the meantime, metering helps.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Waste
a resident of another community
on Sep 29, 2008 at 1:16 pm

They have these metering lights all over the Bay Area and they work fine. They'll work here too once people figure them out -- and IF people like Waster don't ignore them. Saw someone (Waster?) do that the other day and they nearly hit the person who had the green. I'm sure a whole bunch of accidents will REALLY speed things up!
Posted by Patricia, a member of the Vintage Hills Elementary School community, on Sep 26, 2008 at 10:44 am

No wasn't me I actually don't need to take 580 thankfully. I just feel it is unfortunate for the people which do have to use it.

I don't feel the metering lights work well in other parts of the Bay Area either. It still causes issues on surface streets (ie South Bay). You likely did not see the problems there because you are already on the freeway. Try getting off to get gas when the metering lights are on in other areas and trying to get back on. Same problems different place.

With that said I'm not advocating people to cause accidents - just be safe about it.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Waste
a resident of another community
on Sep 29, 2008 at 1:17 pm

And don't kid yourself. Given the ongoing buildouts in Dublin and Livermore, even infrastructure projects like additional freeway lanes, widening of SR84, and BART to Livermore are not going to solve the problem of keeping traffic moving on the I580. In the meantime, metering helps.

Posted by Rae, a resident of the Mohr Park neighborhood, on Sep 26, 2008 at 11:42 am

So let me get this right.. adding additional lanes on a road will NOT solve the problem of keeping traffic moving? How does that work?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rae
a resident of Mohr Park
on Sep 29, 2008 at 8:31 pm

Waste,
Dublin and Livermore continue to grow faster, and add more commuters to the congestion, than lanes can be added to the freeway. Did you know that Dublin announced plans a couple of years ago to add up to 12,000 residential units on the East side? From the look of the hills, that growth is well on its way. Additionally, with the new I580 lanes being built as high occupancy carpool/bus lanes, the commuters getting the most bang for their buck will probably be those outside the tri-valley.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tracy Resident
a resident of another community
on Sep 30, 2008 at 2:05 pm

Running the metering light is not worth the risk to others so you can save 15 seconds. I hope everyone joins me in reporting these people, gotten 2 so far.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Waste
a resident of another community
on Oct 1, 2008 at 7:13 pm

Rae,

I agree with you on that. It is too bad they don't make lane everyone can use and stop regulating the traffic so much.

Tracy Resident,

It isn't he 15 seconds - It is the principle of the matter. I still don't see the risk ... There were not metering light there a month or two ago and people were able to manage.

Also, what use is it reporting the metering light runners to CHP? They can't do anything about it if they don't actually see the violation themselves. I'm sure CHP officers love having to go through traffic to respond to calls that they have no legal capability of doing anything about.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tracy Resident
a resident of another community
on Oct 2, 2008 at 9:32 pm

Waste,

The principle of the matter is that you're breaking the law because it inconveniences you to wait at a metering light. This isn't something unique to Livermore residents, lots of other people do it across the United States. I doubt the Supreme Court would take up your case.

Obviously the CHP can't arrest someone based off a citizen's complaint. But if they get enough complaints then they can start watching the metering lights for those constitutionally opposed people as yourself.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Waste
a resident of another community
on Oct 7, 2008 at 12:21 pm

How am I constitutionally opposed to anything - and where did you get this idea I wanted to bring a case the the Supreme Court?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Commuter
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Oct 7, 2008 at 2:26 pm

I travel westbound on 580 every weekday morning and there's never much traffic getting on at Foothill/San Ramon Rd. The very light traffic has always flowed smoothly in the mornings, so with the new metering lights, cars must come to a complete stop, then accelerate to freeway speeds... all for no benefit at all. This is a complete waste of gas.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by David
a resident of Canyon Meadows
on Oct 21, 2008 at 9:48 am

It seems this was built to make it easier for Tracy residents to commute at the cost of Livermore, Pleasanton, and Dublin residents. Well hells bells, what a farce. Government has obviously gotten over its pompous heads. Tracy residents CHOSE to live in Tracy knowing their commute would be tough going to the bay area.

The result is now all flows so smoothly, supposedly, that traffic bunches up at the southbound 680 offramp from westbound 580. Caltrans, hello? Are you with me? Wake up! That is the bottleneck. Or do you really need to pay a cinsultant the big bucks to figure that out? You should have built the new offramps FIRST, then we could talk metering, ok? Get your priorities in order!

For now, I suggest you turn them off until you resolve that problem, otherwise maybe the people will shut these off for you.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by donohue
a resident of Ponderosa
on May 1, 2009 at 10:06 pm

The lights are ridiculous they make it much more dangerous to get on the freeway. The time you spend in line to get on the freeway more than makes up any time you save on the freeway. I know for me and a lot of moms that used the freeway for picking up kids from school now use the streets which makes that more crowded. What a big waste of money and it is so irritating for us commuters.. I wonder who thought of this bright idea and how much this really cost.I wonder how much could we have added to the freeway for the same cost and the time savings that would have allowed.I guess we will never know.
This is messing up the traffic for the people who live in the city where the lights are.
I don't remember voting to use are tax dollars on this either.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Commuter
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Mar 9, 2010 at 3:18 pm

"Posted by Commuter, a resident of the Highland Oaks neighborhood, on Oct 7, 2008 at 2:26 pm

I travel westbound on 580 every weekday morning and there's never much traffic getting on at Foothill/San Ramon Rd. The very light traffic has always flowed smoothly in the mornings, so with the new metering lights, cars must come to a complete stop, then accelerate to freeway speeds... all for no benefit at all. This is a complete waste of gas."

I've been very pleased to see that the last several times I've entered W580 from Foothill/San Ramon Rd. during morning commute hours that the metering light has been set to green. I'm sure a lot of other commuters feel the same way; as I mentioned above when the metering lights were first installed, traffic had ALWAYS flowed easily through this area unless there is a major accident and the traffic from the two merging roads never had a problem folding in before the merge onto the freeway. Coming to a complete stop at this point was senseless and only served to waste gas and possibly cause fender-benders at the lights. Glad that someone in planning finally figured this out...


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