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Ceremony marks start of southbound I-680 toll lane on Monday

Original post made on Sep 17, 2010

State and local officials gathered in unincorporated Alameda County near Fremont yesterday to celebrate the Bay Area's first "express lane," which is opening in the southbound lanes of I-680 at 5 a.m. Monday.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, September 17, 2010, 6:57 AM

Comments (36)

Posted by John, a resident of Downtown
on Sep 17, 2010 at 8:38 am

Seems to me that the toll lane is going in the wrong direction. I drive this route every morning and afternoon. Northbound 680 is much worse than southbound but there are no plans or for improvement?

Posted by Curious, a resident of Del Prado
on Sep 17, 2010 at 9:51 am

I hope this new toll lane fails miserably. Why would someone pay to get to work faster? Now, if there was a toll lane going Northbound, I would be willing to cough up $5/day, $10 on Fridays to get home sooner to be with my family. Here are few things to consider:

1. Congestion occurs on southbound 680 between Bernal and Hwy 84? The new toll lane will have minimal impact on this congestion.
2. Unless there is constant CHP presence to enforce the toll lane, people will continue to poach the lane as they do now. In fact, now it will be easier, just have an empty Fasttrack device in your windshield and you are good to go.
3. Few people know it is illegal to cross a double white line, so you will have people jumping in and out of the toll lane to avoid the toll sensors.
4. The toll / HOV lane extends all the way down past 237. Congestion rarely occurs past Mission blvd. Why was all the money spent to built this section? Didn't Caltrans study traffic patterns?
5. Why are there metering lights on Andrade and Sheridan? Who does Caltrans think they will be metering, the 5 houses that live off those exits?
6. The northbound commute get worse everyday. When will we see some relief? Who do we contact? Who makes the decisions about where the toll money is spent in the future?

Posted by Michael Leonard, a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Sep 17, 2010 at 10:38 am

Michael Leonard is a registered user.

This system isn't much value but I might use it if I had an meeting before 9 am where I had to be there in person, which is rare. The northbound commute home certainly is bad and they should fix that. They really should have started the toll lane much closer to Pleasanton. It is way to short to help much. There isn't an exit from the lane for Scott Creek Road, so it means you are back in traffic from Mission. I don't think the length of it will be ready by the 20th. It looks like just the bottom part near to Milpitas. There is still lots of construction further north.

Posted by Scott, a resident of Foothill High School
on Sep 17, 2010 at 11:01 am

The opening of the toll lane is going to constrict the other 3 lanes even more because there are a lot of cars coming from Pleasanton area that use the Washington/Durham exits that will no longer be able to carpool because they can't exit the toll lane until after Durham. Also, the engineers messed up and the 84 merge onto 680 south, the merge is too narrow and too short which has been backing up traffic into Pleasanton. How hard is it to figure this stuff out; plus in reality it's the northbound lanes that really need the carpool lane.

Posted by Daily Commuter, a resident of Bridle Creek
on Sep 17, 2010 at 11:16 am

I hope the CHP can educate people not to cross the double white lines. I commute this path every day and the number of violations I see in a 20 minute drive along the commute land is amazing. Do drivers even know the law or care?

Posted by Jerry, a resident of Apperson Ridge
on Sep 17, 2010 at 1:01 pm

John and Curious:

I agree completely. Is Caltrans completely out of touch with reality? The biggest problem is with I680 Northbound from Auto Mall through Andrade. Our tax dollars would've been better spent if an additional lane is added there. What a waste of funding for nothing!

Posted by Curious, a resident of Del Prado
on Sep 17, 2010 at 1:29 pm

@ Jerry- Who makes the decisions? Who directs Caltrans? Is it our congresscritters? I would love to know to whom I can send a strongly worded letter of constructive criticism. Why couldn't they have built one of those bi-directional lanes that switches direction to accommodate the commute. There is plenty of room and the switching can be automated as proven in many places across the country.

Posted by Pleasanton parent, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Sep 17, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Does it use the same transmitter as the bridge? Fastpass? Or a different one?

I agree about the afternoon northbound commute. Money would have been better spent in an adjustable median that allows varying lanes for different hours of the say

Posted by Janet C., a resident of Del Prado
on Sep 17, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Same fastrack, CHP is on this, and yes, there is in the works a funded NB similar HOT on I 680. It can't be done all at once - this is the first in No. Cal., but it is planned that many more will be built as money is available, in the years ahead. Glitches? You bet! This is a learning experience, and an educational experience, for all of us!

Posted by Steve, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Sep 19, 2010 at 2:32 pm

This project is very ridiculous. The decision makers are not silly, they know it won't work, but they don't care and may be blinded by lobbyists who can benefit from the construction.

Here is an old article: "Bay Area Toll Lanes Could Lose Money"
Web Link

Posted by Steve, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Sep 19, 2010 at 2:32 pm

This project is very ridiculous. The decision makers are not silly, they know it won't work, but they don't care and may be blinded by lobbyists who can benefit from the construction.

Here is an old article: "Bay Area Toll Lanes Could Lose Money"
Web Link

Posted by Boycott this Hidden Tax, a resident of Del Prado
on Sep 19, 2010 at 8:10 pm

I hope this project is a failure. This is essentially a hidden tax. They use our tax payer dollars to expand this highway that has been in need of of widening for years. And now that want us to pay for using it. Don't do it. Send a message to the politicians that we are not as foolish as they think we are.

Posted by Pleasanton Parent, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Sep 19, 2010 at 9:57 pm

What do you mean hidden tax? Its not hidden at all.

Just pay the toll and then write it off as a business expense. Ha ha.

Posted by Jeff, a resident of another community
on Sep 20, 2010 at 1:50 am

It's very hard to use this toll lane for normal carpoolers in Fremont area since they can't get in/out freely anymore. Agree that an exit around Scott Creek is necessary - and the toll lane actually should stop there.

Posted by Ngo Loon, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2010 at 8:33 am

Freeway and toll lane are a contradiction of terms. These toll lanes are the result of the state robbing transportation funds to pay for their socialist programs; and from taxpayers not willing to stand for an increase in gas taxes because they know any additional revenue will be raided to pay for socialist programs.

Posted by Scott, a resident of Foothill High School
on Sep 20, 2010 at 8:59 am

How smart are the freeway engineers? By shortening the 84 merge onto 680 south they created a bottleneck all the way into Pleasanton. There's no longer a need for toll lanes after the 84 because the 84/680 interchange acts like metering lights and traffic flows after that point. How hard is it to get this stuff right?

Posted by Larry McKinnon, a resident of Southeast Pleasanton
on Sep 20, 2010 at 9:25 am

These are your tax dollars at work. Of course the poor smuck making minimum wage has to work overtime if he/she crosses into this toll lane. As for being a business expense, anyone that turned that in on an expense report I would reject in half a second.
So now anyone with a fastpass has to grab it and put it in an aluminum shield or something, otherwise they are charged for in the HOV lane. Wonder how many accidents we are going to have, backing up the traffic even worse, as people stop paying attention and grab the fast pass of the dash. This is typical government. If I as a taxpayer paid for this road, I should be able to use it. As the tea party people say "vote the bums out"

Posted by reasonable, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2010 at 9:34 am

Will the system charge your FastPass if you are NOT in the HOV lane? I dont' want to deal with the whole removing / wrapping in mylar thing and I don't want to use HOV, but will I now be charged if I'm driving down a regular lane with my fastpass glued to my windshield?

It did beep at me when they were doing the installation ....

Posted by Curious, a resident of Del Prado
on Sep 20, 2010 at 10:30 am


Traffic backed up for miles into Pleasanton and Dublin due to shorter Hwy 84 merge lane onto 680.

Fasttrack users who were traveling in the non-toll #2 lane were charged due to their proximity to the sensors.

Complete lack of enforement by CHP allowed single drivers with Fasttrack to poach toll lane.

Carpoolers were delayed by single occupant vehicles trying to navigate the new lane and enter/exit points.

Toll lane users exiting at Mission did not benefit since they were forced to wait at long backup at the Mission offramp.

Non-toll/HOV traffic flowed freely from 84 all the way to 237. There was no need to pay the toll charge to utilize the lane.

This project received priortitization over other more needed freeway improvements (eg. northbound 680 HOV lane) due to heavy lobbying by corporate interests in Silicon Valley.

Posted by Pro-Law, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Is my understanding right - if you have two or more people then make sure you don't have your Fastrak up? If you are solo they trust you to put your Fasttrak up?

If that is the case then why wouldn't you just put up a color copy of a Fasttrak (and same size) tape it to the window? Then if you do get pulled over quickly replace it with a legit Fasttrak (if you have tinted windows). This sounds like an unenforceable law.

Posted by Pro-Law, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2010 at 12:10 pm

They obviously can't use photo enforcement - you can just say someone was laying down in the back or something similar.

Posted by Jetson, a resident of Downtown
on Sep 20, 2010 at 2:15 pm

Jetson is a registered user.

I'm sorry who's bright ideas was this? I drive from Pleasanton to Santa Clara everyday for work. We need a carpool lane going North not a pay lane going south. I am not going to pay to get to work earlier plus traffic is not that bad after you hit the 84 exit. Sad that they do not add a carpool lane North, did they think that maybe then more people would carpool, I mean whats the point if the lane is only 1 way.

Posted by MadMan, a resident of Livermore
on Sep 20, 2010 at 2:54 pm

Agree with pretty much all the comments above! Add another one for me. I was a happy carpooler and now will be adding to the congestion in the other 3 lanes as I can no longer exit Durham as I used to. Good luck on getting that toll from single drivers when they can't use the lane anyways! I'll say it again... Northbound is way worse the Southbound is and people will pay to get home not to go to work!

Posted by J Rich, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 21, 2010 at 9:20 am

Do you call a 10 mile backup "without a hitch". Sick and tired of offical wonks blaming motorists for their screw-ups, especially since they did not even bother to ask for our input. Move the carpool lane entry north a few hundred yards where it use to be. Right now you have 5 lanes of traffic merging into 3 lanes at the 84 merge. It doesn't take a genius to realize that this is going to cause a horrendous bottleneck.

Posted by marsha, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 21, 2010 at 10:16 am

If you don't boycott this new toll lane, you may see many more of them popping up. If I weren't one of the millions of unemployed in this "recovered" economy, I would vote by avoiding the lane altogether.

Posted by qim, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 21, 2010 at 4:14 pm

I don't get it. Is this article a joke or some sort of parody? Or maybe written weeks before it opened?

Posted by 680 commuter, a resident of Dublin
on Sep 22, 2010 at 12:29 am

I agree with all the posts from everyone. I commute after rush hour traffic...after 9 am and the last two days has been hellish. Traffic is backed up all the way into Pleasanton! And what's up with the ridiculous operating hours of 5 am to 8 pm? At least with the normal carpool lane, it's open to traffic after rush hour! This is not making efficient use of the lane.

By the way I commute on a motorcycle and do split lanes! If you see a motorcycle coming, please make way as this means there's one less car sitting in traffic with you!

Posted by Kat, a resident of another community
on Sep 22, 2010 at 9:46 am

All you people saying "who do I write to" "didn't they look at traffic patterns" clearly are just using this website to gripe.

Caltrans posts all upcoming projects LONG before they start, on their website. Furthermore, CLEARLY your local papers covered this story WAY before CT's "broke ground."

Where the heck was your valued input then? For those of you that did get off your couches to try and make a difference, good for you. For those of you who did not, if/when your tax $ is abused who's fault is it you did nothing to prevent it?

GET INVOLVED or please be quiet.

Posted by Kat, a resident of another community
on Sep 22, 2010 at 9:53 am

Here is a plethora of good info Ie. why the lines are double white vs. double yellow.

Web Link

Posted by 680 commuter, a resident of Dublin
on Sep 22, 2010 at 11:27 am

The lines should be double but with the one inside to the carpool lane BROKEN so that carpools can get out of the lane any time they want. The lines can be yellow or white. There might be some safety concerns for people who don't know how to drive, but having the double lines be both solid to prevent crossing over just defeats the purpose of a carpool lane.

Posted by Bill, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 22, 2010 at 11:35 pm

To Kat;

Why do you think we are all upset at CalTrans,, our representatives, BAMTC, and all the other stupid agencies that were involved in this colossal waste of taxpayer money. This demonstration project was suppose to cost 20 million dollars. It has now gone over 200 million dollars. Commuters have suffered through two years of construction nightmares only to be greeted with a commute from hell.

If you would have read past forums on this subject you would know that many, many people, including media reporters, since 2005, have raised serious questions about the need and cost of a project like this. Nobody has ever received any response from anyone connected with this project regarding concerns raised. So, many concerned citizens did write to the agencies to try and at least get some reason as to why this project should go forward when logic suggested otherwise. It is really sad that our elected officials and appointed officials feel that they do not have to answer to the public.

Posted by Ramesh, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Oct 2, 2010 at 12:35 pm

The I-680 express lane is a complete failure. It is like the entire traffic agencies are spitting on public with no respect. Traffic was brilliant prior to this express lane. I drive from Danville to 237. After Sep 20, irrespective of anytime during the day, there is a backup and delays. During commute times to work, it is adding anywhere from 10-30 minutes additional commute time from I-580 to I-84. A normal car pool lane was much better. Making this an express lane at all times, has added congestion on all other lanes. Taking away one lane completely is a ridiculous approach and a clear stupidity of transportation agencies. Call for multiple public hearings and decide the future of this nonsense. It feels that transportation agencies are stupidly claiming false victory. They ruined commute for carpoolers and solo drivers. I would expect that these departments to be a lot more smarter. Where is the accountability? Shouldn;t all these idiots who have added to congestion and commute delays to everyone be fired from their jobs? Shame on these idiots who have no respect for traffic and are claiming victory.

Posted by I-680 sucks, a resident of Livermore
on Oct 4, 2010 at 11:04 pm

Think about it folks, When did the majority rules fall from grace? How many of these hybrids or commuters passed you in this HOV lane today on the road YOU just paid for from your fuel tax and DMV taxes not including local and county taxes for this failed and illegal roadway. We have been bent over the preverbal HOV fence! During commute times there are the little greenies driving 45mph in the HOV lane causing just as much backup in the lane next to it. What a total failure of our government to help the common man woman and child stuck in this little thought about poorly executed project from start to finish. Lets all call the responsible parties involved and give them the verbal bashing they deserve Alameda County Congestion Management Agency @ 510-836-2560 or fax the morons at 510-8362185 and let them have IT!!!!!!!

Posted by m, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 5, 2010 at 6:29 am

Isn't this McNerney's district? Why not call our "wonderful" representative (not) because he is "so responsive" to our needs.

My guess is that he'd put an additional toll booth out there to tax us more.

Or, in true democrat fashion, he'd call for an ADDITIONAL government agency to be developed to study this problem.

Posted by Jeff, a resident of another community
on Oct 10, 2010 at 1:57 am

I agree with most of the comments here that this was a waste and a sign that Caltrans has been moving and continues to move in the wrong direction. They, together with the MTC (our regional transit planning agency) and several of our reps in the legislature, have been enticed by the promise of additional "free" money from these toll lanes. The MTC collects all tolls in the SF/Bay area into one giant general fund. they then redistribute them among their little projects, such as BART and AC transit. Although most of us want these things, they are not financially sustainable, as their per-trip cost would be so high that nobody uses them. Thus, they must be heavily subsidized to stay afloat. Roads, on the other hand, turn a profit from the tolls, DMV fees, gas taxes, county fees, and the like.

What I dislike most is the redundancy. We pay taxes to fund all of the roads. Then they want us to pay for their use again with a toll. HOV lanes do nothing but further increase congestion since only a few cars are permitted to use them. Their other purpose is to get people to carpool more, which they fail to do since it is merely a form of our government trying to cajole us into doing something they, not we, want.

And to catch those who would try to cross a toll plaza without FasTrack, they have cameras on the driver, both front and side, and the front and back of the car. When you cross the toll plaza and don't pay, they send the picture they've already taken (since they take your picture regardless of if you've paid or not) to you as a very expensive ticket.

Posted by Rob, a resident of Mission Park
on Mar 7, 2011 at 11:42 am

I enter 680 at Washington and exit at Scott Creek. Anyone figures how to use the carpool lane w/o breaking the enter/exit double lines law? It seems ridiculous. I have to exit before I enter carpool lane based on the current enter/exit points!

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