Around Pleasanton: Making the impossible possible with traffic


With the 2020s just four months away, Pleasanton city traffic leader Mike Tassano sees the coming decade much better for commuters and a relief for clogged roads around the city.

In remarks to the Rotary Club of Pleasanton, Tassano cited three major projects making their way to the finish line:

* Highway 84, a four-to-six-lane link between the I-580 and I-680 freeways, will be completed in 2023.

* Express toll lanes on northbound I-680 south of Pleasanton, from Highway 237 to Highway 84, will be completed next year.

* Valley Link, a commuter light rail train linking the first phase of a transit line between Lathrop/Manteca and the eastern Dublin-Pleasanton BART Station, could start its first section of service in 2024.

Tassano, who earned a degree in civil and transportation engineering from San Jose State in 1999, a year after he joined the Pleasanton staff, is now responsible for all aspects of the traffic division of the city's Community Development Department. These range from neighborhood meetings like the ones before agreeing to install speed bumps on Independence Drive to working with state engineers in designing another flyover to connect westbound I-580 to southbound I-680.

When Tassano joined the city's traffic team, I-580 over the Altamont Pass and through Pleasanton was one of the 10 worst commutes in the Bay Area. Toll lanes were 16 years away. Since their opening in February 2016, with Tassano involved in the planning, I-580 is no longer on that list.

Through May for fiscal year 2018-19, those express lanes recorded over 7.8 million total trips, Tassano said. Gross revenue was $12.2 million in tolls with $2.5 million more in violation fees and penalties, more than enough to cover the freeway's operating budget of $5.1 million. The surplus goes back to the Alameda County transportation agency to be used on other freeway projects.

Highway 84

This long-planned thoroughfare will link I-580 to I-680. State, county and city leaders turned the first shovels full of dirt in 2012, starting the $122.4 million, five-phase construction project.

The final phase is now underway.

Tassano said the new Highway 84 expressway, scheduled for completion in 2023, is integral to reducing cut-through traffic in both Pleasanton and Livermore. Since the relocation of Highway 84 from downtown Livermore to Isabel Avenue on the city's western edge, Livermore's city center is thriving.

I-680 express lanes

Construction of the northbound I-680 express lanes from Highway 237 to Highway 84, which began in April 2018, is scheduled for completion in 2020. Design work for a second phase that will extend those lanes to Alcosta Boulevard in Dublin/San Ramon also will begin in 2020, with completion scheduled for 2026

Valley Link

Anticipating that the BART Board of Directors would renege on its longstanding agreement to build the rail line to Livermore, Tassano said cities in Alameda and San Joaquin counties had already received authorization from the state legislature to build a Valley Link rail service to connect BART service from the east Pleasanton station to cities in San Joaquin County, including Tracy and Lathrop.

"That system is now one-third funded with $600 million toward the total cost of $1.8 billion," Tassano said. "That's far less than what BART had once planned to spend even though its electric cars probably couldn't make it up the Altamont Pass grade."

Valley Link would be a single rail line with turnouts powered by a diesel engine. It's link in Pleasanton will be a parallel station, allowing commuters to cross over to BART trains. Its trains locally will operate primarily on the Alameda County-owned former Southern Pacific railroad right-of-way.

Tassano said initial design and environmental work is underway with a final design due in 2021, construction scheduled to start in 2022 and the line opened possibly as early as 2024.

Editor's note: Jeb Bing is editor emeritus for the Pleasanton Weekly. His "Around Pleasanton" columns typically run on the second and fourth Fridays of every month.

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17 people like this
Posted by Suzann
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Aug 26, 2019 at 9:39 am

Hello Mr. Tassano,
I can appreciate what is occurring on the larger arteries around town however I'm hoping you can do something about the streets within town. My husband has a saying, "Welcome to Pleasanton; now STOP" meaning that the lights along Bernal, Hopyard, Santa Rita and First streets are not coordinated. Gas mileage deteriorates because we have to sit and wait for each and every light. Hopefully you can address this problem; it is a complaint heard by many residents.

3 people like this
Posted by Mike Tassano
a resident of another community
on Aug 26, 2019 at 11:16 am


Thank you for the comment - it is one that I receive from time to time, but honestly much less frequently than in the past. We do have active coordination on Santa Rita, Hopyard and Stoneridge. First and Bernal also have coordination but First Street volume exceeds capacity making progression beneficial leading up to the commute. We are updating the Bernal timing, as it isn't working as well as I would like (mostly due to the number of pedestrians going to and from Safeway).

I drive these routes pretty frequently and find more green lights than red lights, so I would be interested in your specific experience/route.

We are installing some upgrades through a MTC grant to further improve our signal performance. The upgrade will allow me to easily identify the exact second each vehicle arrives at a traffic signal and provide improved routing identification.

Please send me an email, as I would like to hear about your specific experiences -

Mike Tassano

4 people like this
Posted by FrequentWalkerMiles
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2019 at 2:28 pm

Suzann is right. If you pass by a green light toward the end of the light cycle say on Santa Rita past Valley/Bernal, toward 580, unless you go significantly above the speed limit you will hit red light at most of the remaining light son Santa Rita. Everyone I know who lives in town knows that. This is not a new phenomenon by a long shot.

3 people like this
Posted by Mark
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Aug 26, 2019 at 3:19 pm

I agree with Suzann, and it's well known for long-time residents. Seems that in the effort to "control" traffic, it has been determined the best way is to first stop traffic. I live on the West side, and exiting my neighborhood to 580 is a chore. Not sure what happened at the light at Muirwood Dr. North but it now changes for no reason for those driving on Foothill Rd, same with Deodar Way at the Mall (it turns green for no reason, thereby stopping traffic in both directions on Foothill Rd). I was once told you cannot hit a red-light at every intersection on Foothill Rd from Stoneridge Dr. to 580, happens all the time. So what should be a 3-4 minute trip to get on 580 is quite longer (and a waste of fuel). There are many examples, but put succinctly as Suzann did, welcome to Pleasanton, now stop... Quite honestly, I think we can do better (please review how Mission Viejo manages their lights, it is amazing how synced up their lights are).

3 people like this
Posted by Jeff Hill
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Aug 26, 2019 at 3:46 pm

Hello Mike. I believe I had a solution to the gridlock on Main st and it's a very simple one.

Simply remove the ability to turn left onto Main Street from St. John Street.

There would then be no need for a light at St. John. The number of cars I see waiting to turn left onto Main from St. John is very low. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

2 people like this
Posted by Frequent driver
a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Aug 26, 2019 at 4:08 pm

It seems there is no automation to the signals in Pleasanton, as you seem to hit every signal with a red light, than a green light. Try heading up Hopyard from downtown to the freeway, it's ridiculous, or from downtown thru Bernal to the freeway. If you get one green light, you have to floor it to try and catch the next green light, like your racing the quarter mile. Everything just seems like it's on timers with no communication with one another. Are you using PLC's to there full capacity? I work in other cities that are not as frustrating to drive in as here in Pleasanton. Maybe just get rid of the signals and make them all stop signs, it would be faster.

Like this comment
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Aug 26, 2019 at 7:35 pm

Mike Tassano:

I appreciate all of your efforts to improve traffic flow through Pleasanton.
As we all know, when the I-680 shuts down due to a traffic collision, everything overflows onto Pleasanton city streets. That traffic over flow can be horrendous in my nieghbrhood.

These acidents are generally because of distracted driving and or DUI. With all of the video available to capture what is going on inside the vehichle on the I-580 and the I-680, why isn't that technology used to quickly get after the offender?

1 person likes this
Posted by Robert S. Allen
a resident of Livermore
on Aug 27, 2019 at 10:14 am

Robert S. Allen is a registered user.

Re Valley Link, the BART Board did not renege. They refused to approve the grossly over-priced plan before them, but the deadline for decision barred them from getting it modified in time.

I understand that Valley Link will be diesel powered on single track. It follows the I-580 freeway from BART's Dublin-Pleasanton station to an ACE transfer at Greenville - the rail route sought by over 8400 Livermore voters in their 2011 initiative petition - before going over the Altamont Pass on the former SP roadbed. The ruling grade is gentle over the pass; SP long ran sugar-beet and other heavy trains this way.

I long sought BART to Livermore, but Livermore will be well-served by Valley Link. Since BART property at Isabel/I-580 will be used by Valley Link and not BART, ownership should change ASAP, with parking and a freeway shuttle bus run to BART until the Valley Link rail is operating.

8 people like this
Posted by David T
a resident of Las Positas
on Aug 28, 2019 at 12:33 pm

To help alleviate traffic on our streets, let’s build a Costco.

2 people like this
Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on Aug 28, 2019 at 2:00 pm

How about syncing the lights on Main st between St Mary and old Stanley Blvd, make a no left turn during commute time from Main St. to St. John and install traffic cameras at St Mary and Main to nail those rude drivers blocking that intersection all day long. While your fixing things how about a 4-way stop at Peters and West Angela before somebody gets killed.
#1 on the wish list though is red light cameras at Valley and Santa Rita!!!

2 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Aug 28, 2019 at 2:02 pm

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

Hey, how about making more 2 lane streets 1 lane

15 people like this
Posted by Bill V.
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 28, 2019 at 4:16 pm

With all the focus on traffic and impact of new development everyone I talk with cannot believe a traffic study for a new Costco can show that impacts caused by this project can be mitigated. The intersections of Stoneridge/Johnson Drive/interstate 680, and Hopyard/Owens Dr/Interstate 580, do not function at today’s traffic volumes let alone when adding additional vehicle trips resulting from a big-box retail store. The current level of service standard (“LOS”) is unacceptable at peak periods, and the new standard of Vehicle Miles Travelled (“VMT”) cannot in any way substantiate a lesser impact... couple this with minimal alternative routes in/out of the location and we are guaranteed further gridlock even under normal operating conditions ( let alone around the holidays )..... in addition, just think about it, what a wonderful front door image for our City ,,, perfect compliment to our ‘backdoor’ on Isabel where the monstrosity now under construction next to The Oaks Business Park ! Good job looking out for the aesthetics of our community...... we all deserve better from our City Planners and the elected.

1 person likes this
Posted by sjd
a resident of Livermore
on Aug 28, 2019 at 5:20 pm

1) That's not how VMT works.
2) What is with everyone complaining about a concrete building that isn't even painted yet and has none of the trees they will plant put in yet? It's a local company moving to a new location in an area zoned Industrial, welcome to the world everyone.

7 people like this
Posted by David T
a resident of Las Positas
on Aug 28, 2019 at 8:13 pm

Bill V, I agree. Someone better tell Mt Tassono about IKEA, and traffic studies showing LOS F at Hopyard/Owens/Johnson Drive. Yes, IKEA in Dublin will affect our streets and intersections in Pleasanton! Costco will make it even worse. “Much better” traffic in the next decade? Hardly.

9 people like this
Posted by Bill V.
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 28, 2019 at 8:43 pm


I appreciate your opinion, but it goes a little further than just allowing ‘industrial’ to be built in an industrial zoned area.... it’s about building it in the right way in an industrial zoned area....

1) My reference to traffic impacts and lack of suitable mitigation alternatives is related to Costco, and so you don’t have to worry, I am very well aware how VMT works.
2) the use of the tilt-up concrete building by a local company is an irrelevant reference.... the user, beit local or national has no place in a conversation about appropriate site planning and, just as an example, building setbacks. A reasonable ‘standard’ was clearly established at The Oaks, and it quite simply should have been followed on an adjacent property. From the perimeter fence columns formed, it also looks like the landscape will be marginal as well. In summary, it’s very disappointing to see the city approving project submittals that are of a lesser quality than prior projects. It’s not a good sign and in this market indicates a lack of experience and/or practical knowledge in planning, or a lack true concern for the local community.

4 people like this
Posted by James Michael
a resident of Val Vista
on Aug 28, 2019 at 9:11 pm

James Michael is a registered user.

Still talking about traffic and Costco after all these years, or as Paul Simon said..."still crazy after all these years". All I can see here is yadda yadda blah blah.

7 people like this
Posted by David T
a resident of Las Positas
on Aug 28, 2019 at 9:28 pm

We’ve done pretty well without Costco since 2014 when first introduced.
A new traffic study! As Bill V says, how do we mitigate?
Things have changed. Not for the better.

4 people like this
Posted by James Michael
a resident of Val Vista
on Aug 28, 2019 at 11:25 pm

James Michael is a registered user.

Traffic and Costco is nothing but a sham. The anti-Costco faction got it put on the ballot and they wrote it, then when the outcome didn't suit them they said that the voters were confused (remember that they wrote the measure) and tried to do it again but couldn't muster the support. So then it was to the courts with a sympathetic judge...and guess what . IT'S GONNA GET BUILT. It's not about traffic...nobody lives there's all about the gas station. No gas station, no problem. Almost 70% voted in favor of Costco being built and only a few obstructionists are trying to stop it.


Like this comment
Posted by sjd
a resident of Livermore
on Aug 29, 2019 at 11:25 am


"irrelevant reference"
It's not if you see, as I have seen, everyone complaining about greedy developers coming in to destroy the town.

"A reasonable ‘standard’ was clearly established at The Oaks, and it quite simply should have been followed on an adjacent property"

New developments don't define standards, the established zoning code does.
The setback exceeds the requirements of the district.

But beyond that, there's a very good reason that the setbacks from street to building on Isabel seem smaller than the Tesla facility: Because Tesla has trucking bays facing East, towards the residential community. This was universally hated. So this new building is longer and the trucking bays face away, so the setbacks to the north and south come out larger. The screens exist then to the north and south to block view of the truck bays from the street.

Even with all that, the setback from street to wall is very similar to the setback from street to water berm at Gillig.

You might disagree with the tradeoffs, but to claim "a lack of experience and/or practical knowledge in planning" is frankly ridiculous.

6 people like this
Posted by David T
a resident of Las Positas
on Aug 29, 2019 at 11:55 am

James Michael- traffic and Costco is nothing but a sham?
I suppose 10,000 trips on weekdays; 12,000 on Saturdays is a sham?
No one lives there? How do they get there except to travel on our streets and through our intersections.
This discussion is about traffic, correct?

1 person likes this
Posted by James Michael
a resident of Val Vista
on Aug 29, 2019 at 12:58 pm

James Michael is a registered user.

Okay...just about traffic then. Those 10,000daily trips are still going to happen...they will still travel on our streets and through our intersections because that's how they will get to the freeway to travel to Danville or Livermore (other cities reaping tax benefits from Pleasanton residents), only now they will use more gas and cause more pollution. Ya, just about traffic...

6 people like this
Posted by David T
a resident of Las Positas
on Aug 29, 2019 at 1:14 pm

No other use, except Costco, will create this much new traffic.

1 person likes this
Posted by Bill V
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 30, 2019 at 5:02 pm


I do appreciate your perspective and did take into consideration the ‘trade-offs’ a planner is capable of making in the applicants submittal process. This is why I contend the building’s positioning is far favorable to the developer rather than the neighboring community. I do agree with you the orientation of The Oaks dock facilities toward the residential is not at all ideal, but the first “mistake” is never justification for further bad planning on a new building. Even with the perimeter fencing, it won’t soften the building’s visual impact..... I think considering the greater Pleasanton and Livermore residents, and neighboring communities lining 84, just deserve better....

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