Transportation

Transportation

Friday Video: Ribbon-Cutting for Third Eastbound Lane on Richmond-San Rafael Bridge

The opening of a third eastbound lane on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge is a major milestone in a long-awaited project to relieve rush-hour traffic that backs up into San Rafael every night.

As seen in the above video, a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the opening brought out a host of dignitaries last week, including MTC’s Commissioners Damon Connelly (Marin County Supervisor), Amy Rein Worth (Mayor of Orinda), and Federal Glover (Contra Costa Supervisor). Also in attendance were former MTC Commissioner and Marin County Supervisor Steve Kinsey, Assembly Member Marc Levine, Mayor of Richmond Tom Butt, and Caltrans District 4 Chief Deputy Director Dan McElhinney. 

Read more about the project in this blog post or the I-580 Richmond-San Rafael Bridge Access Improvement Projects page on the MTC website. The new traffic lane is just the beginning of expected improvements along this very busy corridor. Read More

Transportation

An Update on BART's "Fleet of the Future" and Train Control Modernization Project

BART Warm Springs Opening
Noah Berger

Earlier this year, the blog provided a sneak peek at the long-awaited first new BART rail cars rolling into service around the Bay Area – and, with them, the promise of smoother, quieter, more comfortable and more spacious train rides for commute-weary Bay Area residents. In that post, we went into some detail on MTC’s essential role in funding and supporting BART’s $4.2 billion “Fleet of the Future” project to purchase and deploy 1,081 new rail cars. 

But it’s worth stepping back a bit from the funding mechanics to get a better understanding of the difficult realities that make these new rail cars and other related modernization projects so essential: BART is the region’s backbone for Transbay traffic but the system is way past its intended capacity, it is operating on 45-year old equipment, its geographic footprint is growing, and projected regional housing and job growth patterns suggest future demand will only increase. 

Earlier this month, staff from BART presented to MTC's Programming and Allocations Committee and provided an overview of, and update on, the expansion and modernization projects that BART is undertaking to increase capacity and meet future demand. Read More

Transportation

Third Eastbound Lane on Richmond-San Rafael Bridge Opens Today

Cross Section of Richmond-San Rafael Bridge (Looking West) Showing Proposed Improvements
Peter Beeler
Diagram showing (in orange) the new third lane on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge to accommodate peak-period traffic in the eastbound Interstate 580 direction.

Caltrans today will open a long-awaited third eastbound lane on Interstate 580 to accommodate peak period traffic from San Rafael to Richmond. The opening of the lane marks a major milestone in the multi-year, $53 million project to convert the right shoulder to carry afternoon traffic from Sir Francis Drake Blvd. in San Rafael to a newly-expanded Richmond Parkway/Point Richmond exit in Richmond.  Read More

Transportation

New Book Explores the Latest and Greatest Research on Parking, the “Cinderella of Transportation”

For many years in planning and transportation circles, parking was a subject taken for granted – like the air we breathe or the water we drink. It was so much a part of the built environment, so necessary for modern mobility, and – frankly – so esoteric that it didn’t warrant much consideration beyond the fact there should be plenty of it, and it shouldn’t cost too much either.

This started to change in 2005 when UCLA professor Donald Shoup synthesized decades of at-the-time lonely research on the subject in his book, The High Cost of Free Parking. As summarized in the above video from Vox, the book showed how parking has been misunderstood and mismanaged, resulting in city parking policies that increase housing costs and encourage sprawl; subsidize cars and car-owners at the expense of those who cannot afford or do not want to buy a car; and make the urban environment less walkable, less beautiful and less productive.

Now, Shoup has released a new book, Parking and the City, as follow-up. Read More

Transportation

"Why Do Bridges Fail?" Plus A Regional Good News Story

A bridge under construction
Karl Nielsen

The collapse earlier this month of a pedestrian bridge at Florida International University (FIU) was shocking and upsetting for many reasons: six people lost their lives, the bridge had been intended to increase pedestrian safety, and there's a possibility that warning signs went unheeded.

But beyond the tragedy and fall-out, it also raises several questions: Why? What makes a bridge collapse? And what are conditions like for our bridges here in the Bay Area? Continue reading on to find out more. Read More

Transportation

Pedestrian Fatalities Are Increasing Nationwide. Why?

Everyone Is A Pedestrian

A few weeks ago we highlighted how the Bay Area has experienced a recent sharp upward trend in fatalities and injuries from roadway crashes, and that bicyclists and pedestrians were bearing the brunt of these unwelcome developments. A new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) suggests growing dangers for pedestrians are not just a Bay Area issue: in both relative and absolute terms, pedestrian deaths nationwide are at levels not seen in decades.

The report, Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities By State: 2017 Preliminary Data, contains a host of alarming findings about conditions for pedestrians across the country (emphasis added in bold):   

  • The nationwide number of pedestrian fatalities increased 27 percent from 2007 to 2016, while all other traffic fatalities over this period decreased by 14 percent.
  • Pedestrian deaths as a percent of total motor vehicle crash deaths increased steadily, from 11 percent in 2007 to 16 percent in 2016. Pedestrians now account for the largest proportion of traffic fatalities during the past 33 years.
Read More
Transportation

KQED Forum on What President Trump’s Infrastructure Proposal Means for the Bay Area

Central Subway Boring Machine
Noah Berger

Earlier this morning, KQED Forum discussed President Trump’s proposal for $200 billion in federal infrastructure spending over ten years, including how much money might make its way to the Bay Area and which projects it might support.

MTC’s Director of Legislation and Public Affairs, Randy Rentschler, joined host Michael Krasny, along with Sean Randolph of Bay Area Council Economic Institute, to discuss the proposal and a host of other Bay Area transportation issues.

Listen to the whole interview on KQED’s website.  Read More

Transportation

Statewide Coalition to Support State Roads and Protect Local Transportation Improvements Gains Momentum

Bike lane

From the League of California Cities:

As cities and counties throughout California begin hundreds of street and road improvement projects funded through SB 1, [a] broad coalition supporting safer roads and protecting local transportation improvements gains momentum. 

Cities are using these dollars to fill pot holes resurface streets, fix bridges, improve sidewalks, expand bike lanes and more and it is critical that these transportation funds remain protected.

Voters have an opportunity in June to prevent the Legislature from diverting transportation funds with Proposition 69. Supported by the League and the Coalition to Protect Local Transportation, the measure adds constitutional protections to new revenues generated by SB 1 and ensures that these funds can be used only for transportation improvement purposes.

The groups supporting Prop. 69 and opposing any ballot measure to repeal SB 1 comprises a broad Coalition that understand the value of these funds for California’s residents, businesses, cities and counties. Coalition members come from business, labor, local government, transportation advocates and taxpayers.

Read More
Transportation

Self-Driving Trucks and the Demand for Truckers

Cordelia Truck Weigh Station
Karl Nielsen

Whenever self-driving vehicles come up, the question of long-term employment impacts is never far behind: What happens to the millions of people who drive for a living? Although this jumps over a lot of feasibility issues in terms of how likely truly autonomous and connected vehicles are, it’s a crucial consideration. The effects on industries and people’s livelihoods will have all kinds of implications, whether economic, political, regulatory, social or technical – and these will all have feedback effects in determining whether, when and how the driverless utopia happens.

Over at The Atlantic there’s an interesting take looking at the trucking industry, suggesting that self-driving trucks could actually be good for truckers, as opposed to resulting in technological unemployment on a massive scale:

“We’ve been disappointed over the last year to see a lot of stories about how self-driving trucks are going to be this huge problem for truck drivers,” says Alden Woodrow, the product lead for self-driving trucks at Uber. “That’s not at all what we think the outcome is going to be.”

For one, Uber does not believe that self-driving trucks will be doing “dock to dock” runs for a very long time.

Read More
Transportation

Fatalities and Injuries From Crashes on the Rise, MTC Supports State Goal of Zero Traffic Deaths by 2030

injury

Bad news for the Bay Area’s pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers: the latest data from Vital Signs, the Bay Area’s comprehensive performance monitoring website, shows a sharp upward trend in road fatalities and injuries from roadway crashes.

There were 455 fatalities and 2,089 injuries from crashes in 2016, representing 43 percent and 25 percent increases from 2010, respectively. Although roads have become increasingly safe for motorists thanks to improved vehicle safety technologies, the data show that bicyclists and pedestrians are a growing share of fatalities and injuries in the region and are experiencing higher fatality levels compared to recent decades. Read More