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MV won't join suit against Hwy. 85 express lanes

Original post made on Jun 12, 2015

A coalition of South Bay cities is taking the Valley Transportation Authority to court over a controversial plan to expand Highway 85 with paid express lanes. Mountain View, however, will be conspicuously absent in the case.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, June 12, 2015, 1:34 PM

Comments (21)

Posted by incognito
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jun 12, 2015 at 2:28 pm

In this area with the ultra-wealthy, the shrinking middle class, and the large number of service workers who are paid minimum wages, toll lanes would create separate freeway lanes for the have's and the have not's. The purpose of express lanes, in my mind, is to reduce traffic and reduce carbon consumption. Express lanes should be for carpools, hybrid and electric vehicles, and multi-passenger vehicles such as shuttles and busses. A toll lane would be a clogged traffic lane comprised mostly of wealthy people while the less affluent are in the next lane over.

Posted by Incognito II
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jun 12, 2015 at 2:42 pm

Agree but I do not agree with vitriolic "have's v. have not's" social justice argument - that's not more than Cultural Marxism.

Posted by Ken
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 12, 2015 at 3:03 pm

Have you been on 85 during commute hours? There will be minimal advantage gained by paid express lanes, as the current carpool lanes barely move faster than the other lanes. All it will do to let anyone who is willing to pay use them will be to slow them down to the same speed as everyone else.

Posted by Recall Rosenberg/Showalter
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 12, 2015 at 3:16 pm

This is because we have some new members of the City Council who were bought off by VTA: Rosenberg and Showalter.
Both of them are the paid for stooges of the VTA, around only to do its bidding

They had to lie to us to get elected. Scum.

Posted by Recall Rosenberg/Showalter
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 12, 2015 at 3:17 pm

BTW, another BONEHEADED idea form the VTA. Remember this organization when they come begging for more tax money or bonds or special funding.

Posted by Solution to the traffic problem
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 12, 2015 at 3:56 pm

Totally agree with the haves and haven't comments. This is purely for the rich.

Here is the solution to traffic problems. Seeing how we can't make highways wider for more lanes, how about building a second story highway above the actual highway? It would be for the people that go long distance, while those that go short distances can use the bottom portion.

I know, that wouldn't make sense to the elected officials since they can't make money off of it. But our roads were meant to be free, lets keep them that way.

Posted by AC
a resident of another community
on Jun 13, 2015 at 1:14 am

AC is a registered user.

@Solution to the traffic problem

I totally get what you're saying, and I think it probably is time to consider the two-level freeway.

But I think you might be mistaken about one point. Those elected officials can make money off of it, by getting kickbacks from the builders and construction folks. It's a common practice, and as long as they don't get too very rich off of it, they don't get caught. I'm not protesting it. It's happened for a long time now.

I think the real reason why the idea doesn't fly is because there are property owners along the 85 corridor who don't want the eyesore or construction noise; and they're not afraid to be vocal about it.

Posted by MVResident67
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 13, 2015 at 9:12 am

It appears as if the toll lane is not intended to help the flow of traffic as much is it appears to be a way for Cal Trans to generate revenue without improving the situation. They're going to spend $176 million just to convert existing lanes into lanes you have to pay for - which will be fully congested by 2023 - how does that help anyone?

Caltrans plans to finish this project by 2021 and its own study shows that all lanes would be fully congested by 2023, and yet the project would not be paid for until 2040, by which time it would be obsolete? What? How can anyone believe that this is the best - ONLY - option available to ease congestion along that corridor? Really?

I find it puzzling why our fearless leaders - behind closed doors - would not join our sister cities in requesting REAL traffic solutions for the 21st century and join in the lawsuit requesting that an Environmental Impact Report be completed before proceeding with the project.

Well, okay...let's think about the whole VTA BRT project on El Camino Real, and Cal Trans' role in that project as well, and we may have a hint as to why our leaders opted to not get involved. I'll scratch your back if you scratch my back, right? Nah, that would NEVER happen.

Posted by Brad
a resident of Willowgate
on Jun 13, 2015 at 9:27 am

The whole idea of paid express lanes is basically saying "carpool lanes were a bad idea, let's eliminate them". Carpool lanes were intended to reduce pollution by encouraging ride sharing or low/zero emission vehicles. How successful it really is, I can't say, but I personally know people who carpool together solely to benefit from the carpool lane. If VTA takes away that benefit, these people will go back to driving in separate cars (more cars on the road). All those well-intended people who formed a car pool with a friend, or bought an electric vehicle are now being rudely snubbed.
We're going from "let's work on reducing cars on the road" to "let's find ways to make profit from the roads the taxpayers built and encourage more people to drive on the roads so we can get even more money"

Posted by FoolishMoneyGrab
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jun 14, 2015 at 8:07 am

Sounds like a recipe for road rage and a lot of petty lawsuits (I should not have been charged, the traffic was at a standstill in the fast lane..or I had to use it to get around the breakdown in the center lane.) Goodluck with that Cal Trans.

Posted by Enough with the VTA
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 15, 2015 at 10:42 am

When the goal becomes "Extract revenue" instead of "Provide a service", the bureaucracy needs to be re-thought.Personally I think the VTA has reached the point where they will do more harm to citizens than good, as they feverishly work to get money from us a keep paying those salaries. They depend on our money to feed their broken machine. I say it should stop, yesterday.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 15, 2015 at 1:19 pm

Carpool/HOV lanes are a failure, here's a Berkeley statistical analysis, for example (Web Link

They make environmentalists feel good, while while actually exacerbating the traffic problem and leading to more pollution, but CA is defined by special interest politics, not pragmatism, so some form of these things is here to stay.

CA has strict environmental regulation, and "environmental studies" are the typical way to mire a project in ridiculous bureaucracy, without addressing the fundamental issue, just procedurally hamstringing its implementation.

The people who who propose and implement massive infrastructure changes, which are provably detrimental need to be fired or removed from office, and the entire notion of "special" lanes on the highway needs to be banned.

The congested roads are themselves a symptom of CA silly zoning rules. We've got bedroom neighborhoods and areas where people work. When you live in a dense population center, these functions need to be combined so that you don't have a one-way flow of traffic around work hours. Unfortunately, it's hard to fix this particular problem because it was created decades ago.

Posted by psr
a resident of The Crossings
on Jun 15, 2015 at 9:41 pm

@ Solution and AC
I laud your good intentions but I doubt either of you lived here during the Loma Prieta quake of October 1989.

Most of the people who died during that earthquake were on the bottom of the Cypress Structure (a two-story section of freeway that once existed here). Several dozen people were trapped when the quake hit and the structure collapsed, crushing the cars on the bottom. Were it not for the fact that the Giants and the A's were playing against each other in the World Series, there would have been hundreds of cars on that road and many more would have died.

In short, your idea of a two-story freeway seems great, but this is earthquake country. It is too expensive and too dangerous to build long roadways of this kind here. Technology may allow it, but nature has a way of quashing our hubris.

Posted by Jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 16, 2015 at 10:15 pm

I live in Saratoga, and it appears the ExpressLanes will effectively prevent most Saratoga residents from ever using those lanes. Our trips usually involve round trips from the Saratoga Ave. exit/entrance to SR-85 either to/from Palo Alto via I-280 or to/from downtown San Jose via SR-17. Since accessing the ExpressLanes either during rush hours or other hours would require two access points (one to get into the ExpressLanes and one to exit them) and the current plan apparently has no access points in Saratoga and certainly not the requisite 2 access points in either direction, that means we cannot EVER use the ExpressLanes. So for us and most others who enter or exit SR-85 in Saratoga, the the ExpressLane plan will significantly increase our travel times and concomitant contribution to pollution, global warming, etc.

This seems like a really bad idea on the surface which appears to be driven by MTC/VTA's unrelenting objective of increasing revenues at any cost to the public.

Posted by Agreed
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 17, 2015 at 7:08 am

You;re preaching to the choir Jim. Nobody with any sort of non-biased, non-agenda driven, rational thought see this as a good idea. It is bad for everyone.

Posted by keenplanner
a resident of another community
on Jun 17, 2015 at 9:39 am

This is classic rock and hard place, but neither solution is satisfactory.
Converting the carpool (HOV) lane to a HOT lane still allows carpools to use the lane, but I agree with many readers that in the south bay "money is no object" culture, there won't be a fee high enough to keep toll drivers out of the lane.
The purpose of the lane is to a.) allow those who carpool or vanpool an advantage, and b.) to allow express buses to keep a reliable schedule, perhaps providing transit that's faster than driving.
If the HOV lane is moving too slowly, the district is mandated legally to raise the occupancy requirement from 2 to 3 passengers per car. This would also provide an arterial for an express bus system, which south bay residents should be begging for.
Providing a fast, efficient transit system is much more important than moving cars. The south bay should provide transit that people want to use because it gets them to work faster than driving, with far less pollution.
As far as the upper deck idea-give it up. It will never happen, for myriad reasons, the first of which is money, and second is that ADDING LANES NEVER SOLVES CONGESTION PROBLEMS, in fact, it makes it worse. Google "induced demand" or read this article: Web Link

Posted by Jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 17, 2015 at 6:31 pm

Reading "Keenplanner"'s post raises several comments.

First, the comment that "Converting the carpool (HOV) lane to a HOT lane still allows carpools to use the lane" is often not true, because limiting access points to every 5+ miles effectively blocks many car poolers from using the lanes (as I explained by example in my original post. As another example, car poolers who get on at De Anza Blvd going South on SR-85 will not be able to get into the HOT lane until they nearly reach SR-17--so they will have to slog it out in the "slow lanes" for quite a few miles. Further, the HOT lanes will effectively prevent solo drivers from using them even during low traffic conditions (without paying and without the inconvenience of the infrequent access points).

The point is, HOT lanes will cause addition delays for many or most drivers making relatively short trips or using more than 1 freeway (e.g, from SR-85 to I-280).

Gary Richards (Mr. Roadshow) has several times reported statistics that the percentage of drivers who car pool or those who switch to transit has declined in our county over time (many years), so it appears to be a fallacy based past data to presume that increased density of housing will do anything but hurt the traffic situation.

Keenplanner also states, "ADDING LANES NEVER SOLVES CONGESTION PROBLEMS" and gives a link. If you read what is at that link, the data there does not support this conclusion. At best, they argue that it is not cost effective--in fact the data shows that, e.g. 4 lane highways can carry more cars than 2 lane highways (no surprise there).

Keenplanner further states, "Providing a fast, efficient transit system is much more important than moving cars. The south bay should provide transit that people want to use because it gets them to work faster than driving, with far less pollution." Spoken like a VTA employee. Maybe the problem is that we are so far from having such a transit system. I sometimes work in downtown San Jose, yet taking transit takes me many times longer (1 hour and 17 minutes, according to Google, vs. 19 minutes driving alone) than driving and requires taxpayers (me and you) to subsidize 86% of my trip's operational costs and 100% of the capital expenses. Having HOT lanes will not speed up that trip a bit.

The transit zealots' strategy seems to be to make driving as uncomfortable, slow, and expensive as possible so that bad transit looks good by comparison.

Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jun 17, 2015 at 7:37 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

You may want to look at WHAT WE EXPECTED AND PAID FOR!
No HOT OR HOV or special bus lanes.

That would mean getting rid of a bunch of non-working committees. Then set up ONE committee to get the BART LOOP COMPLETED WHICH IS WHAT A BUNCH OF PEOPLE AND I PAID FOR 40 YEARS AGO.

If that requires EMINENT DOMAIN, give the new TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE the right to use EMINENT DOMAIN to get the SMALL parcels of land ( and things built on those parcels ) that need to connect the CALTRAIN RIGHT OF WAY to complete the loop.

That is true 21st Century thinking; now just get the people off their butts and do it!

No more studies, no more delays: DO IT NOW!

If you need proof of what the right people can do, look at RTD LIGHT RAIL.
The first committee could not find their own butts with both hands. After THE TAXPAYERS ASKED WHERE ALL THE MONEY WENT, a new committee took charge and Light Rail got built. It is still being built out to the promised people, but Mr. Buffett reneged on the handshake deal Light Rail had for using new Right of Way on the BNSF trackage he has. He has the gold, he makes the rules.

Posted by Steve Ly
a resident of another community
on Jun 18, 2015 at 8:29 am

Jim wrote "This seems like a really bad idea on the surface which appears to be driven by MTC/VTA's unrelenting objective of increasing revenues at any cost to the public.

The saddest thing about this is a report in this morning's San Jose Mercury which reports that 68% of surveyed voters are OK with YET ANOTHER SALES TAX which is being pushed by crony capitalist Carl Guardino, who would rather not have his member SVLG companies have to pay some sort of corporate tax to finance these improvements.

Posted by Sales Tax
a resident of another community
on Jun 18, 2015 at 6:30 pm

VTA is selling a pack of lies. They push an ADDITIONAL sales tax as a way to FIX POTHOLES. People are nuts. The recession forced states and cities to cut budgets all across the country. Now just as the effects of the recession are finally starting to wear off, tax revenues for states and cities will AUTOMATICALLY increase. This is exactly the WRONG time to vote for additional funding for basic maintenance. Sales tax is on the rise and so is income tax. Look at the state budget. 14% increases for schools. If the economy does continue to recover, funding for potholes is included.

Posted by alex
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Oct 26, 2015 at 9:22 pm

he express lanes will indeed reduce traffic - and the rates charged for it do NOT create a divide between the rich and middle class at all. The express lanes toll would come out to an average of $150/month for a middle class person and save me at least 30minutes a day in my commute to mountain view through 85.

It will allow me to spend that extra $150 to save money on my child's extra day care that I pay. I as that middle class person that people in this thread seem to worry about, would then be able to live in blossom valley where I can afford a townhome at a $2600 mortgage and taxes than in mountain view where I cant live because of double that mortgage and taxes. I much rather pay $150 in tolls as that middle class (or even lower middle class) person that you guys seem to care about then have to be forced to pay $2000 in extra mortgage in mountain view or be forced to spend 2 hours in traffic every way.

The people who are opposing this have an ulterior motive - not allow the san jose people to commute easily to mountain view or cupertino - some because they fear the noise will bring down the expensive house values on border of 85 - how poor friendly is that? some because they do not want the real estate values to equalize or at least come close between south sanjose and cupertino/mountain view.

let me ask you - if adding an extra lane does not help in fact hurts traffic as some of these non-sensical comments say - then why dont we remove another lane - make it from 3 down to 2 - that should solve the traffic completely correct? As a south san jose resident and a lower middle class -- struggling to even afford blossom valley and 2 hour commutes to mountain view every day -- I totally support the express lane meant for "wealthy" !

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