Highway 87 metering lights activated

January 13, 2009 8:00:48 AM PST
New metering lights for Highway 87 were turned on early Tuesday morning.

Since Highway 87 in San Jose opened in 1992, it's become one of the most popular and also one of the most grumbled-about roadways because of traffic. So the hope is new metering lights will help.

Five new metering lights were turned on at 6:00 am Tuesday morning in the northbound direction. The downside is the longer wait to get onto the highway - about 5-to-10 minutes. But once on, Caltrans says the merging and traffic flow should improve on the highway, it will lower the number of crashes and speed up the drive.

v "Everywhere we meter traffic, it holds people at the ramp a little bit and people have to get used to it. So there are delays the first day we activate and start cyclying, but overall, people do experience a faster drive time," said Lauren Wonder, Caltrans.

Caltrans says it's been seeing success with the meter lights -- up to a 40 percent drop in some commute times. When lights were flipped on last fall on I-580 in the Livermore Valley, they trimmed travel times up to 15 minutes. Ramp signals are also easing delays along Highway-85, and along 101 between 92 and the Santa Clara-San Mateo County. There are future plans for more metering lights along 101 in Palo Alto and Mountain View, and on 880 in San Jose and Milpitas.

Caltrans still has to work out timing patterns of the lights based on traffic - so it could range from one car passing through every 4-to-12 seconds. The meters will operate from 6:00 to 10:00 am northbound, and from 3:00 to 7:00 pm southbound. Southbound-87 metering lights are scheduled to be turned on by springtime.

Caltrans would like to hear from anyone who has a complaint about the new metering lights. The number to call is (510) 286-4531.