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Posts Tagged ‘Caltrans’

Who knew there were so many John Forrester types in Santa Cruz?

More than 60 people turned out Monday night to air concerns about a proposal to put 10 miles of rumble strips along a scenic span of Highway 1, an idea that has sparked a furor among many local cyclists. Held at the Museum of Art and History, the sometimes testy meeting was a chance to hear details of the plan firsthand from Caltrans officials. Hoping to improve traffic safety along a picturesque but sometimes deadly stretch of asphalt, Caltrans is proposing the vibration-inducing strips to keep drivers from drifting off the road.

I suspect many cyclists still have a knee-jerk reaction to rumble strips because they used to be built so badly. These Highway-1 rumble strips would conform to modern Federal standards, leaving 5′ of shoulder space. I ride that road all the time, and if anything that would be a nice improvement.

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“Peer Review Group” has issued a report on the organizational structure of California high-speed rail. The group has reached a depressing conclusion that nobody in the State has the necessary skill set to develop a high-speed rail system, or even negotiate a PPP:

The LAO Report identifies a concern with Caltrans’ “…lack of expertise in working with private partners on PPPs,” which is exactly the problem that the project faces even now in the issue of the lack of operator/designer/builder feedback, and which will become much more serious when the time comes to develop, award and oversee (or regulate) the operating arrangement. The Authority does not have this expertise either, and the Group is deeply concerned that neither the Authority nor Caltrans will be able to acquire it in a timely way if the Department must stay within existing State agency limitations on positions, salaries, and skills.

High-speed rail is a mature turn-key technology. There are numerous 3rd world countries that have built lines, or are in the process of doing so. How is it that California, with its diverse economy and engineering talent, is having these kinds of problems?

The full report: 59472351-PeerReviewGroupCommentsonHSRLAO-sReport

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Speed SignThis is really unprecedented. Caltrans is implementing traffic calming on the Bay Bridge “S-curve” to control speeding.

Caltrans, working together with the CHP has decided to slow traffic down across the new S-curve on the Bay Bridge, by closing one to two lanes of the Bay Bridge’s upper and lower decks during off-peak hours.

Traffic engineering practice in the US is to build roadways wide enough to accommodate peak-hour LOS (level-of-service). The result is that during off-peak hours (which is much of the day in many locations), highways are grossly overbuilt, leading to speeding and dangerous passing.

A relatively simple safety solution is to close off superfluous lanes during off-peak hours, so as to moderate speeds and reduce accidents. This also provides much safer environment for cyclists and pedestrians.

If it can work on the Bay Bridge, it can work anywhere.

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