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Caltrans, VTA Close Gap on $70M, 20-Mile HOV Lane

Mon January 28, 2013 - West Edition
Jennifer Rupp

The Interstate-880 corridor is a significant route for commuters traveling to and from the Silicon Valley, from the Tri Valley Area and Central Valley in the north, and the San Jose area to the south. Traffic has continued to increase along this route, primarily in the “Golden Triangle” area bounded by SR 237, Route 101, and I-880.

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) partnered to effectuate a $70 million improvement project that will add more than 4 mi. (6.4 km) of HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle, or carpool) lane in each direction of I-880 in Santa Clara County. The improvements take place between State Route 237 in the city of Milpitas and U.S. 101 in the city of San Jose.

The project will fill an existing HOV lane gap by extending the HOV system that connects northern Santa Clara County to Alameda County, a distance of about 20 mi. (32 km). HOV lanes have been shown to be effective in reducing travel times during peak commute hours.

The State’s Corridor Mobility Improvement Account (CMIA) funds allotted $50 million for the I-880 project, and the other $20 million comes from VTA local program reserve funds.

Project goals include increasing highway capacity, reducing congestion, enhancing safety, and improving connectivity between I-880 and U.S.-101, two critical elements of Santa Clara County’s transportation network.

“Our planning, design and execution of this project has been centered around keeping both the public and our workers safe during construction,” said Nilesh Pandya, Caltrans resident engineer.

“The end result will further enhance the safety and mobility of the traveling public on this busy corridor.”

Bay Cities of Concord, Calif., began the project in spring 2012 and plan to have the HOV lane completed by summer 2013.

Bay Cities is being aided by a handful of subcontractors including MF Maher Inc., Bortolussi & Watkins Inc., Linear Options, Central Fence, Professional Tree Care, and Statewide Construction.

In addition to widening I-880 from six to eight lanes, crews will widen and realign on and off-ramps to I-880 at Brokaw Road Interchange, and construct a retaining wall throughout the corridor.

According to the The Transportation Research Board, “the travel time savings and improved trip reliability of HOV facilities provide incentives for individuals to change from driving alone to carpooling, vanpooling, or riding the bus.”

The first of its kind was a bus-only lane on Shirley Highway (I-395) in northern Virginia outside Washington, D.C., in 1969, followed by the contraflow bus lane on the approach to New York - New Jersey’s Lincoln Tunnel in 1970. Both of these projects still serve significant volumes of commuters. Major HOV systems now exist in many metropolitan areas throughout the United States.

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