Earlier merges could ease Hwy 101 traffic

September 17, 2008 2:26:31 PM PDT
California Department of Transportation spokesman Bob Haus said today that traffic jams this week on southbound U.S. Highway 101 in Marin County should lessen once motorists adapt and start merging sooner. Southbound traffic in the San Rafael area has been backing up since Monday, when Caltrans crews closed one of four southbound lanes for road improvements. The $110 million improvement project, which will add carpool lanes where gaps exist, should be finished by mid-November, Haus said. Haus urged southbound motorists to start merging left near the Merrydale Road overcrossing in northern San Rafael to alleviate the backup, which at times extends as far north as Rowland Boulevard in Novato. "Once they pass the Merrydale Road overcrossing, they can get in the far left lane," Haus said. Haus explained that Caltrans has removed the diamonds that mark the carpool lane and relocated the carpool lane signs. Motorists can now merge left about 1,500 feet farther north than before, Haus said. "Instead of the carpool lane ending just north of North San Pedro Road, it ends further north at the Merrydale Road overcrossing," California Highway Patrol Officer Mary Ziegenbein said. Haus and Ziegenbein also advised motorists to leave earlier to get to their destinations on time. Ziegenbein said the construction is adding 45 minutes to the commute. Ziegenbein reminded drivers to leave ample space between their vehicle and the car ahead of them to avoid fender benders, which further slow the commute. Haus and Ziegenbein said that once the continuous carpool lane is installed between state Highway 37 and state Highway 1 in southern Marin County, the commute should be much faster.

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