Home Letter To The Editor Express Lanes Taking A Toll On I680 Drivers

Express Lanes Taking A Toll On I680 Drivers

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Editor:

As a member of the driving public who spends way too much time on local roads I would like to state that the so-called Express Lanes on Interstate 680 south from Rudgear south to San Ramon can only be classified as a dismal failure of engineering and planning.

While I completely understand the inability to predict driver reaction to changes in our traffic flow I do believe we are seeing enough significant downside to the Lanes to consider scrapping them and perhaps starting over.

I happen to drive 680 from Walnut Creek to Pleasanton most days and while that stretch is no stranger to accidents I have to say it has never been as it is now. Where I could usually count on seeing one or two crashes along that route every week or so I can now count on seeing one to two A DAY in the same stretch.

I am not a traffic engineer but I would attribute this increase in wrecks to the attempts of drivers to avoid being “stuck” in a toll lane and taking evasive action to steer clear of them. Traffic reporting from NEWS24/680 and my onboard navigational system have CLEARLY demonstrated an increase in accidents since the lanes were implemented.

Hopefully something can be done to correct this situation.

Michael Ramsey
Walnut Creek

23 COMMENTS

  1. This is SO true! Wel said!
    I have noticed the same: horrible daily accidents, and worse traffic jams, not less, as promised. This was another State-of-California-bad-idea. I also pity the poorer workers out there you can’t afford the $6-12 dollars day to be in the ‘express’ lane. I now think that this was just another money grab by the state.

  2. The signs are confusing and people who cant figure them out in time are overreacting and causing crashes or crashing.

    • Major injuries incurred on that crash, P. We’re unable to update condition once folks hit the hospitals due to privacy restrictions. But definitely a bad crash as you say.

  3. “Hopefully something can be done to correct this situation.” Be a defensive driver. Traffic is a “mental game.”

  4. I do my best to stay off the road during peak hours. Even then I see some incredibly bizarre driving.

  5. Any guess when we’ll reach the limit and ALL traffic will come to a halt? My money is on 2025. Let’s start a pool.

    • It’s illegal to host a betting pool or to handicap such things but we’re taking 2026 at even odds.

  6. I’ve been driving that route for 20 years or so. I don’t think it is worse since the opening of the express lanes (which I disagree with anyway) but there are more accidents than a few years ago for sure. Where I have seen the increase in accidents is going south in the morning just beyond Walnut Creek BEFORE the express lanes start. I think driving distracted is way more common now and that is the likely cause. As for express lanes…I’d love to see an analysis of how much money they bring in. They’ll never come close to paying for themselves is my guess and they have only a very tiny environmental benefit and may be a net detriment when you factor in the environmental impact of their construction.

  7. Can I point out a lane was not added with the express
    Lane but instead an existing lane was repurposed.

    It was not to alleviate traffic but instead to charge you foe the privelage of driving.

    Really sad our state gov has flat out failed us.

  8. I bought a fast-track. Haven’t registered it and frankly after reading this, I wish I could return the stupid thing. I avoid I680 South as well and sadly, use Danville Blvd. Sorry residents, but it’s a mess up there.

  9. I hold my breath every time one of your alerts comes through now. It almost always has to do with a crash on the freeway.

  10. Thank you, Michael, for saying what the majority of local people think. These terrible lanes have definitely made traffic and accidents worse in the area. Not to mention all of the incorrect charges on people’s Fastrak accounts. Why should we have to pay to use those lanes at all, but especially outside of commute hours? We’ve paid for this highway many times over, and I resent being told I have to keep paying more. Even during the middle of the day, when traffic used to be lighter, traffic is bad now because people are squeezed into three lanes. Or, they’re darting in and out of the HOV lane, causing accidents. Give us our “free”way back!!

  11. I have always disagreed with the concept of creating discrimination lanes (HOV) for a few at the expense of the many. It’s simple physics, and these ‘traffic engineers’ aren’t getting it. Flow will not improve for the greater volume by reducing the flow space by 1/4. So the “brain trust” at CalTrans and politicos in the state came up with a ‘solution’ to try to shush the whining… Extortion Lanes!! Now the lane is still a discrimination Lane, but for some payola they’ll allow others to use it too. Chicago gangs of the 30s have nuthin’ on CalTrans today with this racket. Screw the road flow-it’s all about the $$$.
    I recall when 680 was merely an HOV commute-time game. I made sure I was leaving out of Danville before 3pm because that’s when the freeway typically went from ‘normal’ to bogged-down within a couple of minutes, depending on when folks decided it finally was 3pm and had to abandon lane #1. With the all day Extortion Lane it’s now all day, everyday bogged down. Are there more cars on the road now than a few years ago? Most certainly. But the crazy schemes of reducing and specializing Lanes does not work or help. It won’t matter pretty soon anyway as so much expense and attention is on the extortion lanes that all the rest of the roadway is crumbling and soon enough will be undrivable.

  12. I agree with Brian and Alex. Speeders, distracted drivers and camera dodgers. You have to learn to play the game. Even when the state is wrong, the state made a decision that most of us disagree with – and you have to change your own mindset. Adjust your driving skills, and be patient. We all deal with traffic on the way to work. The state isn’t causing accidents – drivers are. It’s not the states responsibility that you chose to work and live along the 680. Commute safely, or work from home and eventually retire (in peace).

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