Caltrans says relief on the way for Silicon Valley, Peninsula commuters

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- Traffic congestion relief is three years away. That's the promise Caltrans and elected officials made to Silicon Valley and Peninsula commuters Friday, who endure sometimes excruciating backups and slowdowns along the U.S. 101 corridor.

The $567 million project will bring express lanes to a region that has seen at least a half-million jobs added and more commute headaches over the past four or five years.

About half of the cost is being covered by Senate Bill 1, which provides $54 billion for road maintenance and rehabilitation and for congestion relief. Completion date will be in 2022.

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New express lanes will be added to the Bayshore Freeway from the 380-101 interchange in the South San Francisco/San Bruno area, just north of San Francisco International, to Redwood City south of Whipple Ave.

Existing HOV lanes from that point south to the Highway 237-101 interchange in Sunnyvale will be covered to express lanes.

An estimated two million vehicles use this stretch of 101 on a weekly basis.

Express lanes that already exist in Alameda and Contra Costa counties are new to San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

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Cars equipped with FasTrak transponders can pay to use the express lanes when sensors embedded in the pavement and analytics indicate traffic flow would be improved by opening them to paying customers.

The toll can range from a few cents to over $10, depending on conditions.

However, the goal of express lanes, like HOV lanes, is to encourage carpooling, which also relieves traffic congestion.

When drivers use the express lanes, that reduces the number of vehicles in regular lanes and speeds up the flow.

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ABC7 News drilled into Caltrans traffic volume statistics.

Peak commute traffic numbers range from 18,300 vehicles at the 380-101 interchange in San Bruno to 11,900 at the 237-101 interchange in Sunnyvale.

The statistics bear out that one of the biggest bottlenecks on 101 is at Highway 92, which connects to the San Mateo Bridge and the East Bay.

As trans-bay traffic enters northbound and southbound 101, the volume swells to 18,200 vehicles at Hillsdale Blvd., one interchange to the south, and to 19,600 vehicles at Third Ave., one interchange to the north in San Mateo.

We'll have more details about the project and its benefits on ABC7 News at 5 and 6 pm.
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