I'm a little pissy this morning. Cal Trans has placed metering lights on all I 580 on ramps, and today was their first day of operation. Since I get on the road between 5:30 and 6 AM each day, traffic is not normally an issue.
But today the bureaucrats took charge. I made it onto the Portola on ramp to westbound 580 at 5:45 AM, about usual. But instead of sailing along with few other vehicles on this ramp, I was greeted by a mass slamming on of brakes as cars ground to a halt 1/4 mile from the freeway. Yes, the meters had taken over.
I don't have a problem, necessarily, with metering lights. In certain acute traffic situations, such as a weekday morning on the Bay Bridge, they greatlt reduce traffic messes.
But outhere in the east county suburbs, at 5:30 AM, traffic just isn't as tough as that. I've done it for 20 years now, same time, same ramp. There's a quick slowdown until the next exit comes and goes, then traffic makes it up to speed before the 580 / 680 interchange where it briefly slows again. The metering lights didn't change that this morning.
What it DID change is this - 100 cars lined up idling, inefficiently wasting precious, expensive fuel in order to get into traffic that would be there anyway. It DID piss off several of us waiting, crawling toward that light. And it DI cost one poor CalTrans employee, in a Prius, no less (don't we have budget issues?) who happened to catch my wrath as she creeped like the rest of us toward the light. I bet she removes that logo once she gets to work!
So CalTrans managed to 1. slow access to the freeway, which 2. wasted lots and lots of fuel, and 3. started an entire communty's day off on a downer.
I guess they had some money in the budget to waste on thuis metering project. My feeling? The money might have been better spent building a median on Vasco Road, the new Blood Alley in Alameda County. They could have simply filled 50 miles of potholes. But like the rest of the country, CalTrans is addicited to techno - doodads - overhead signs with "Buckle Up - It's The Law!" blazing in our faces every few miles, or...metering lights. How about a few more bucks into rail transportation? Freeway friendly express commuter buses? Huh, CalTrans?
I sent them an e - mail this morning, and if your experience was similar to mine I hope you do, too. Don't forget to copy your state legislators, too. Let 'em know you've had enough of the state calling the shots just because they had a few bucks lying around.