Theory of I-80 project is great, the reality not so much

Q: I cried like a baby when my supervisors at Caltrans told me they were doing the project on Interstate 80 to lower speed limits and close lanes when there was a problem ahead. In theory it works, but I wasn’t sold.

The I-80 corridor is such a mess. Signs need to be on 24/7, like metering lights are. That has to be automated, but California isn’t ready to sign off on that yet.

The CHP will not enforce speed limit signs. Drivers won’t obey speed limits.

Maybe when all cars are self-driving electric and have telematics, then cars can be slowed down by law enforcement with no driver intervention. That will happen about the same time we get those flying cars we were promised back in the ’50s.

Jim Richardson, Caltrans (retired)

A: A complaint drivers have on I-80 is that high-tech solutions for freeing up traffic are available but not used very often. Caltrans counters that to use them more often could lead more motorists to ignore them.

Q: Everything you wrote about I-80 is absolutely correct. The theory is great. Yet in reality, how do you make it work?

Try going after bad drivers via FasTrak. That would be a surprise to receive a fine in the mail, after one has done something stupid and inconsiderate.

Tom Ochs, Vallejo

A: Getting a citation in the mail would, indeed, get drivers’ attention.

Q: We have experienced a huge gas tax increase and were promised that potholes would be fixed. Yet the potholes on I-680 between Pleasanton and San Jose have become worse. Seems like the simple fixes are being overlooked for big projects.

Greg Miller

A: That’s the big debate. Do we use the new federal funding to fix what’s broken, or direct it to bigger projects as adding lanes, unclogging bottlenecks and improving transit.

Q: I purchased an all-wheel-drive vehicle equipped with mud-and-snow tires. We were planning a trip to Reno and I was unsure about whether I needed to carry chains or not. I called the CHP in Truckee to find out if they were required there and was told that if I had an AWD with M+S tires, it was not necessary to carry chains on I-80 over Donner Pass.

That contradicts your article. Either it is incorrect or the CHP in Truckee needs to be informed that they are giving out incorrect information.

Chuck Serafin

A: The article is correct. Per the CHP, you need to carry chains, but if you have an AWD vehicle with M+S tires, you don’t need to put them on unless blizzard conditions make them necessary.

Look for Gary Richards at, or contact him at [email protected] or 408-920-5335.

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