Archive for the ‘Commuting’ Category

We don’t need CalTrain for bullet trains, says HSR

California’s High Speed Rail Commission, the agency tasked with getting bullet trains running up and down the state sometime this century, says CalTrain’s “staggering deficit” and possible collapse will not keep it from proceeding with its plans.

Just because the local transit agency, which runs trains from San Francisco to San Jose (and Gilroy, at commute times), is facing drastic cuts to its schedule, even a possible shutdown, doesn’t mean the bullet train project can’t go forward. High speed rail would share the CalTrain right-of-way from Gilroy north (click for a Google map overlay of the bullet train route), and if CalTrain can’t hold it together in the decade or two before the bullet trains arrive, the High Speed Rail Commission might just take over CalTrain. At least that was the idea “floated” by HSR board member Rod Diridon, long-time transit mandarin. After all, they’re both essentially state agencies.

The map shows some details of the HSR plan on the Peninsula, where some sections would be in a trench, some on an elevated way, some at grade level.

Meanwhile, the threat of a lawsuit forced the CalTrain board to put on hold the long-planned electrification of the line. Inexplicably, the lawsuit is from an environmental group, even though electrification would make the line less polluting. Right now it seems CalTrain can’t do anything right.

Psych! Bridge reopens at 9:00 this morning

yes-were-openAfter announcing the Bay Bridge would not reopen in time for the morning commute, CalTrans announced about 8:20 this morning that the bridge would be reopening by 9:00 a.m. The reopening follows five and a half days of blame, angst, repair, testing and inspection after a previous emergency fix broke last week on Tuesday afternoon.

Don’t count on Monday morning bridge reopening

Safety engineers were still testing the most recent repairs to the Bay Bridge over the weekend, and the word mid-Sunday afternoon is: don’t count on the bridge being available for the Monday morning commute. Better plan alternatives. Update @ 5:20 pm: That’s confirmed, no Monday morning on the bridge.

Pictures show an eerily empty toll plaza, an eerily empty bridge, and stuffed BART trains. Meanwhile, a car thief blew through barricades in San Francisco and led police on a chase over the closed bridge, and most people in San Francisco today completely forgot there was any problem at all, since it’s a gorgeous, sunny, warm 1st of November.

Bridge still closed through Friday evening commute

bridge_closedEngineers were continuing to test the completed fix-to-the-repair on the suddenly dubious Bay Bridge today, and CalTrans announced at 10:00 a.m. today that the bridge would remain closed throughout the Friday evening commute. It could possibly open as early as late Friday evening. You can click the map at left for a current traffic map or go to 511.org.

You can text the word ALERT to 45227 (which is KCBS radio) and get a text message when the Bay Bridge reopens.

Update, 3:20 pm: The 511.org site now says the bridge will be closed “through Friday,” but “if” the bridge remains closed, BART will run hourly all-night service to the East Bay tonight and Saturday night. Here’s the all-night BART details. Note that only 14 stations will be in operation overnight.

Public pleads with CalTrans: Don’t rush repairs again

The Bay Bridge could be open as early as Thursday evening “if everything goes perfectly” with repairs to the troublesome spot on the cantilever span, CalTrans told KRON Channel 4 today. “If something happens during the testing” and they have to adjust the repairs, it could take days longer.

Meanwhile, a UC Berkeley engineering expert was being quoted in news reports saying the design of the first fix — which was done while crews were cleaning up from the mammoth Labor Day re-route — was “not correct” and left the span vulnerable to complete collapse in the event of an earthquake. It was nothing more than a Band-Aid, he said.

An Associated Press article quoted a driver as saying the accident yesterday had caused her to lose “so much confidence in the experts, the millions of dollars that are being spent to reconstruct and build a new bridge,” referring to the decade-long project that will eventually replace the entire cantilever section with a suspension bridge.

The failure was probably caused by continuous heavy winds this week, CalTrans said. Wind continued gusty today while a new repair was being worked on. Asked to describe what the new design was like, a CalTrans spokesman said, “Think of a big belt around a piece of wood.”

Somehow that image doesn’t comfort me.

BREAKING: Bay Bridge closed again after repair fails

The Bay Bridge was closed around 7 pm this evening after the emergency repair accomplished over the Labor Day weekend broke apart, raining heavy steel pieces and cables down on westbound traffic.

California Highway Patrol officers are still working, two hours after the incident, to clear heavy traffic from the bridge, after which it will be closed in both directions indefinitely. Monitor the Twitter account @baybridgeinfo for information.

Westbound Bay Bridge closed by big rig rollover

bay_bridge_14Oct09

Update: All westbound lanes reopened a little after 8 pm tonight.

A Safeway truck flipped around 2:30 this afternoon after encountering the new S-curve on the Bay Bridge, leading to these pictures: a parking lot on the westbound incline, and a completely empty stretch of roadway after the site of the crash, just before the Yerba Buena Island tunnel.

Click the pix for more webcam images, of get the story and video on the KPIX website. More on the KGO TV website, including the obvious:

The driver, who suffered a bruised leg, was driving 55 mph in the 40 mph zone and did not know the speed limit had been changed. He said he had not driven over the bridge since before Labor Day and was taken by surprise by the S-curve.

BREAKING: Bay Bridge opens after all

opening_bridgeThe Bay Bridge opened this morning at 7:00 a.m. after emergency repairs to a cracked i-bar, despite earlier predictions by CalTrans that the fix would take until Wednesday morning. Live video feed of the new 300-foot section of the birdge.

“Everything went perfect” with the emergency repair job to the span, said Dam Himrick, president of bridge contractor C.C. Myers.

The illustration, from ktvu.com, shows Highway Patrol cars leading the first traffic across the bridge at sunrise this morning.

Big crack may cause bridge setback

bridge_crackA crack was discovered Saturday in one of the members holding up the cantilever section of the Bay Bridge — a section of the bridge not supposed to be worked on at all in this weekend’s massive bridge section switchout. Discovered during the detailed inspection that was carried out as part of the bridge shutdown, the flaw was serious enough to have closed the bridge on its own, CalTrans engineers said.

The unforeseen problem may delay the scheduled 5 a.m. reopening of the bridge to commuter traffic on Tuesday morning.

CalTrans said this morning it has no estimate for when the bridge may reopen.

You can follow the project’s Twitter account, baybridgeinfo, for updates.

High speed rail contract put off

train_wreckCalifornia’s High Speed Rail Authority delayed a vote to award a $9 million public relations contract when some commission members let it be known that the contract was about to be awarded to some cronies of Gov. Arnold Schwartzenegger, and that two of the three commission members who recommended the PR firm used to work with one of its principals.

Wasn’t Schwartzenegger elected by promising not to do business as usual?

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