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Roadshow: Speedinfo; non-secret CHP "crackdowns"; etc

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  • 8/23 SJ Mercury
    Published Tuesday, August 23, 2005, in the San Jose Mercury News No worries, those new devices watch overall traffic, not you By Gary Richards Q What are those
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 23, 2005
      Published Tuesday, August 23, 2005, in the San Jose Mercury News

      No worries, those new devices watch overall traffic, not you

      By Gary Richards

      Q What are those new devices that set off my radar detector on Highway
      17? There are two at the summit and two in Scotts Valley. They are
      about four feet around and about a foot long, high up on poles and
      connected to solar panels. Are they gathering information about
      speeds traveled or taking my picture, too? Is Big Brother watching?

      Tom Clarke
      Scotts Valley

      A Sort of. You are seeing -- and hearing -- radar-type devices that
      have been installed along Highway 17 and other area freeways by
      SpeedInfo, a Cupertino-based company that is working with Caltrans to
      place their devices in areas where there are gaps in the 511 traffic
      information Web site and phone line system. This system does not
      interfere with police radar, but it can trigger radar detectors. It
      measures average traffic speed in all directions but not individual
      cars. Caltrans will receive data from SpeedInfo free for a year,
      using it to update the 511 system. [BATN: And thereafter, presumably,
      the public pays through the nose.] When done, SpeedInfo will have
      installed up to 300 devices along Bay Area freeways, including 16 on
      Highway 17. Others will be on Interstate 80, Highway 101 from South
      San Jose to Hollister, I-680, I-780 between Benicia and Vallejo, I-980
      through Oakland, Highway 24 between Oakland and Walnut Creek, 101
      north of Novato and parts of I-580 and Highway 4. It's already in
      place on much of I-280. Click on
      <http://traffic.speedinfo.com/District4Sensors> for more information.

      Q If you are as concerned about speeders as you seem to be, why don't
      you let them suffer the consequences of receiving a ticket from the
      CHP? It seems contradictory for you to let people know ahead of time
      when and where the CHP focus on speeding will be.

      Ginnie Mickelson

      A The CHP likes getting the word out in advance of a crackdown. The
      idea isn't to write hundreds of tickets; it's to get drivers to slow
      down. Today, the CHP will have extra cops using radar and airplanes
      on Highway 24 from the Caldecott Tunnel through Oakland in the
      morning. On Thursday, they'll be on I-80 near Dixon in the afternoon.

      Q I come from a state that uses patrol cars in plain wrappers, and
      speeding is much less a problem. Cars can be burgundy, black, silver,
      metallic blue or any other color. It's important that a state not
      select one color, as California has.

      Carmen Rowe

      A The CHP does use some special vehicles in different colored cars to
      target speeding truckers. And they use all white Camaros and all
      white Ford Crown Victorias with no light bars or with the low profile
      overhead light bars. Truckers seem to miss these cruisers in their
      rear view mirrors. But white is the dominant color.

      Q I thought a law was passed raising tolls on Bay Area bridges to $5,
      but that it would not go into effect right away. I recently crossed
      over the Golden Gate Bridge and had to pay $5.

      Dena Stein

      A Tolls on state-owned bridges will rise to $4 in 2007, part of a deal
      reached to help pay for the construction of the new Bay Bridge. But
      the Golden Gate is not a state owned bridge, and the fee for crossing
      it has been $5 since 2002.

      Q Help! While I'm thrilled the Warren Avenue overpass in Fremont is
      under construction, I'm not sure I'll survive until the project is
      completed. There are several large trucks moving dirt, and truckers
      seem to think they're driving sports cars. I saw a huge truck race
      into oncoming traffic with no regard to right of way. Another pulled
      right out into a line of about five cars trying to merge onto I-880,
      forced an SUV out of its lane. Someone's going to get killed. Any
      help here would be most appreciated.

      Jennifer Aguirre

      A Fremont police have been notified and are on the lookout.

      Q At the intersection of Fourth and San Fernando streets in San Jose,
      there are no road lines on San Fernando at the light, and it is
      generally assumed that there are two lanes, one to go straight and the
      other to turn right onto Fourth. Will they ever paint lines on the

      Karen Voisinet
      San Jose

      A Yes, but you will be in for a surprise. Around Christmas the city
      will restripe San Fernando, which will have one through lane, a bike
      lane and parking. City engineers say the area is not wide enough for
      a separate turn lane.

      Contact Gary Richards at mrroadshow@... or (408) 920-5335
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