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