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Op Ed: Supe. Cortese on 237 Express Lanes

County supervisor welcomes new lanes. Do you agree?

The following is an op-ed from county Supervisor Dave Cortese.

With Tuesday’s opening of the SR 237 Express Lanes facility, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) has achieved its first major milestone in delivering the Silicon Valley Express Lanes (SVEL) Program.

When fully built out, this program will allow solo drivers to access over 180 miles of carpool lanes, for a fee, generating much needed revenue for county transportation projects, as well as providing congestion relief for hundreds of thousands of commuters through more efficient use of existing roadways. 

With employment in the Valley picking up, there have been noticeable increases in congestion on all our roads in recent weeks, and this project could not come at a more opportune time. 

Leveraging the existing capacity in the carpool lanes will reduce congestion in the general purpose lanes, as well as provide toll lane users with fast, reliable travel times. In fact, travel time studies conducted in the weeks leading up and following Tuesday’s opening, have found that commuters in all lanes, including the general purpose lanes, are realizing benefits from the project. Commuters in the westbound Express Lanes experienced up to 16 minute travel time savings. 

Although congestion relief is a central goal of the project, another huge benefit to county residents is the potential revenue generation from tolls. This revenue can be used for operation and maintenance costs, as well as for highly desired transit improvements within the corridor.

This project truly is a win-win for all commuters.

BY March 23, 2012 at 01:26 PM
Really? Which portion of Milpitas commuters agree with the time savings? Before at least one could get on the carpool lane after 9am but now even after carpool hours one cannot use the lane that leaves only 2 lanes for everybody including the carpool people BTW because there there is no entry to the express lane from the Milpitas exit! In effect the freeway has been reduced from 3 lane to 2 lane !!!
Liz Ainsworth March 23, 2012 at 02:43 PM
I am very confused about how to use the express lane. I asked the police how to use them but did not get a definitive answer. The officer did say that it is yellow not white lines that should never be crossed but did not say I could cross into the lane, going over the double white lines outside of peak hours. I travel on Calaveras Blvd. every day to my office on Main St. and was initially concerned about the congestion since it took me over half an hour to travel less than three miles to my office. It does seem that drivers who used to use Calaveras to get from 680 to 880/237 have found alternative routes and my journey to work has been at the speed limit for the last few days. I hope this has not gone from one extreme to the other and Milpitas will loose passing trade because of this. If anyone can give me clarity on these points I'd be grateful. I do travel to Mountain View to visit clients and would like to understand the roadway I am driving on.
John S March 23, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Mr. Cortese, Have you tried exiting Milpitas in the morning? Then you can tell me about how my tax dollars are being used for a win-win. Also, I used 237 yesterday about 9:45 and observed 3 drivers crossing over the double lines, the last one especially causing a driver in the commute lane that he cut off, having to brake.
Norm March 23, 2012 at 05:08 PM
If you care to try to find out, here is a manual: http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/traffops/signtech/mutcdsupp/pdf/camutcd/CAMUTCD-Part3.pdf In addition, solo toll drivers must exit the carpool lane after the toll portion ends when signs direct them to. Nice, eh?
Norm March 23, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Page 3B-4: Where crossing the lane line markings with care is permitted, the lane line markings shall consist of a normal broken white line. Where crossing the lane line markings is discouraged, the lane line markings shall consist of a normal solid white line. Where crossing the lane line markings is prohibited, the lane line markings shall consist of two normal solid white lines. Lane line markings shall be used on all freeways and Interstate highways.
Jen Chang March 23, 2012 at 06:02 PM
VTA
Kathleen Podrasky March 23, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Hi Liz, The lines that differentiate the express lanes from the general purpose lanes in the Bay Area are double solid white lines. It is a moving violation to cross double solid lines 24/7, regardless of express lane operating hours. CHP is enforcing this and traffic violations begin at $481.00. Express lane operating hours on SR 237 are 5-10 westbound, 5-9am eastbound, and 3-7pm both directions. From Calaveras to SR 237 to Mountain View, it might be good to consider using the general purpose lanes until just after North First Street, at this point you can merge into the carpool lane, where the double solid lines revert to a single dashed line. For more information on access and exits for express lanes, or other questions, please visit www.vta.org/expresslanes, or email community.outreach@vta.org, or call us at 408.321.7575.
BY March 25, 2012 at 04:35 AM
I wish our public transport system was more efficient then we could use VTA / caltrain etc. If I take public transport it takes me 2 hours to reach my office at Stanford from my home in Milpitas...
Norm March 25, 2012 at 05:30 AM
That's probably about the same speed as a bicycle. I'm thinking the inefficiency of VTA is partly due to the South Bay being so spread out. Muni is more efficient because S.F. is so compact.
Artie March 26, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Dave Cortese is clearly clueless. Has he driven this stretch of road since the change? Apparently not. The sole reason for extending the express lane hours until 10:00 am beyond the normal carpool lane ending hour of 9:00 am was to increase REVENUE. It hurts most commuter's travel time. What was a 3 lane highway has effectively been reduced to a 2 lane highway during the worst possible travel time. Nice going, jerkoffs.

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