New HOV lanes, BART-to-SJ good news for A’s fans

If you’re one of the 80% of A’s fans who drives to games, you just might get a quicker trip to the Coliseum in the future, thanks to a flurry of new road projects that Caltrans is starting this year.

According to Mr. Roadshow, the Bay Area is getting $5 billion to be spread among 19 projects. While none are in San Francisco, San Mateo, and Marin Counties, the bulk of the work (12 projects) will be in Alameda and Santa Clara Counties. Key among them are the extensions of carpool lanes along the Nimitz:

  • I-880 from Hegenberger Road in Oakland to Davis Street in San Leandro ($108 million)
  • I-880 from CA-237 in Milpitas to US-101 in San Jose ($31.5 million)

The South Bay project is less expensive than the East Bay project because most of the groundwork was already done for the former as part of a previous 880 widening project a decade ago. Combine these two with ongoing improvements to the Nimitz and improved interchanges at CA-92 and CA-262/Mission Blvd., and it should eventually be much smoother sailing in each direction for carpoolers, who are the usual profile for those who drive to games in Oakland.

If the A’s move south, the carpool lanes, along with at least 4 lanes in each direction the entire way between Oakland and San Jose, will help funnel gameday traffic. However, it’s not a complete, direct solution. Once a driver coming south along 880 hits the 101 interchange, the freeway will revert to not having carpool lanes, which could create congestion there and along surface streets as they try to make it the last two miles. A good way to go might be the Gish/10th Street exit on 880 South just before 101, as it’s a quick detour to downtown and SJSU.

The big ticket item is $2.3 billion for the 10-mile BART extension from Warm Springs (its own separate project) to Berryessa in North San Jose. Again, it’s not a direct trip to Cisco Field, but it’s a lot closer than Fremont and the only way to get to downtown San Jose is to first build to Berryessa.

Not related to Caltrans funding is one more big mass transit project, Caltrain electrification. The long-awaited conversion from diesel to electric trains will create an opportunity for more frequent service, which will drive down the operating cost per trip and help keep Caltrain solvent. To achieve this, Caltrain cut a deal with the state’s troubled high speed rail authority to devote $700 million towards the electrification project. To support the more frequent service and greater number of riders, the San Jose, Millbrae, and San Francisco stations will be expanded. The $1.5 billion project is expected to be completed by 2020. HSR is teetering right now politically, so it’s not clear if that project will ever be built. This money shift appears to be an acknowledgement by the authority that it may need to start in the most heavily impact areas first, before it commits to the full intra-state backbone. The move could backfire in the long run, as it may convince stakeholders and citizens that high speed rail would be best if it terminated in San Jose, not San Francisco.

9 thoughts on “New HOV lanes, BART-to-SJ good news for A’s fans

  1. Caltrain electrification is great news. Once people realize how much faster and more frequent the service is and how much quieter the trains are those greedy NIMBYs on the Peninsula will lose whatever tiny support they’re enjoying now. And it will only get better when grade-separated rail is laid for HSR.

    On a smaller scale geographically (but not from a ridership perspective) Muni is switching to all-door boarding soon and implementing priority signaling for trains and busses within 2 years. Those changes will have a huge effect on travel times within the city. Lots of good transit news for the Bay Area lately.

  2. I hope all this actually does lead to increased weekend train intervals and extended service after 10pm on weekdays. I’m in the boat of fans where driving will be inconvenient.

  3. @Dude,
    Completely agree with you on Caltrain. The news of the last week is awesome! Looking forward to using light-rail on steriods from SJ to SF.
    Regarding BART to SJ, hoping we get a chance in the near future to make the 2000 Measure A half-cent sales tax permanent; rather than have it sunset in 2036. This will ensure that BART will get all the way downtown/SC a lot sooner than later.
    Completely OT all: been tasked by my employer to take some at-risk youth to tonights Sharks game; section 114, row 7! Being paid to sit in Club, life is good 🙂
    Good stuff R.M.!

  4. Thumbs up to that, Tony D.

  5. HSR must go all the way to SF. It is written into the law.

    And I agree with all, the HSR / CalTrain deal is great news!

  6. @martin–that is currently being reviewed and debated—current logic is to end it in SJ and use upgraded Cal Train as the link—at least near term with a goal to extend to SF at some point in the future–supposedly all the local politicians have signed off on that approach—we shall see if it meets the courts muster….all good for SJ—just want to see it undergrounded in the downtown core—

  7. @GoA’s-The law is very clear. HSR must go from SF to LA and make it in a specific amount of time (i.e. it must be high speed). There just isn’t enough margin in the rest of the system to travel at CalTrain speeds down the peninsula. Now I agree that “when hsr must be complete” is entirely up for debate. But CalTrain can’t fill in forever for HSR.
    As for underground in SJ, the engineering report was not cheap. It would have to go under future BART, deal with a water table that is very high, and the soil sucks through DT. Unless SJ approves a special tax there is now way HSR is going underground in DT SJ. Just way too expensive.

  8. @martin–money is always found to underground transportation in sf—believe they are building a billion dollar subway right now to connect china town–bttm line where there is a will there is a way—putting up 60 foot structures and dividing downtown would be a mistake that would be regretted in the future—ala the old embarcadero frwy in sf—do it right to begin with–and we agree—there is no definition of time to complete hsr–so I expect the new strategy to go forward

  9. It’s a start, but as ML said, Berryessa isn’t anywhere near the Cisco Field site (about 6-7 miles, depending on route). If you’re in the East Bay, you’ll still have to use VTA or a bus, or take a draw-out trip from San Francisco via Caltrain. Of course, none of this is contingent on the A’s plans, so it’s good to see.

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