Driving east on I-580 became easier over the weekend as Caltrans and the Alameda County Congestion Management Agency opened an additional 2.9 miles of the new carpool lane from Airway Boulevard to past Portola Road in Livermore.
The agencies also announced that the full 11-mile high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) lane, from Hacienda Road in Pleasanton to Greenville Road in Livermore, is now expected to open this fall, a full year ahead of schedule.
It will be converted to an "Express Lane" next year, giving solo drivers the choice of using the lane by paying a toll electronically via a FasTrak toll tag, while carpools and other HOV vehicles will continue to use the lane for free.
"This lane will help relieve congestion on one of the Bay Area's busiest stretches of freeway: I-580 from Pleasanton eastward," said Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC). "I am pleased that construction is ahead of schedule so we can bring drivers a better trip sooner."
The first segment of the I-580 eastbound HOV lane, 4.5 miles from east of Portola Road to Greenville Road, opened in October last year.
"Traffic on the eastern portion of the I-580 corridor definitely got better once the new carpool lane opened," said Mark Green, chairman of the Alameda County Congestion Management Agency. "Reducing congestion on an additional 2.9 miles will improve air quality and driving time for thousands of people every day."
The I-580 eastbound HOV lane was one of the first projects in Northern California to utilize funds from Proposition 1B, the $19.9 billion bond measure approved by California voters in November 2006.
Eastbound I-580 accounts for the second-most "vehicle hours of delay" in the Bay Area, and the worst on a per-mile basis, according to the congestion statistics from the MTC. Average traffic on this stretch of I-580 is approximately 200,000 vehicles per day.
Construction of the HOV lane not only is ahead of schedule, but also is under budget. Originally budgeted to cost $153 million, the project should be completed for $125 million, including repaving all the lanes on the roadway and building new auxiliary lanes from Isabel Avenue to First Street, according to Bijan Sartipi, Caltrans District 4 Director.
"The contractors, the engineers, and the public agencies have worked together to accelerate the delivery of this project," Sartipi said.
Construction is expected to begin next year on the I-580 westbound HOV lane and to be completed in 2012.
Congestion relief projects along the I-580 corridor began in late 2006 with the installation of traffic monitoring devices along I-580, I-680, and State Hwy. 84, as well as local arterials within the Tri-Valley.
Motorists can keep up-to-date on the I-580 Corridor improvements online at www.i580.info. The website has live camera views of traffic conditions as well as details on all aspects of the improvement projects.