There was a woman in the grocery store line practically frothing at the mouth — and for once it wasn’t me.
She’d just tried to use the new to get to Portola Avenue so she could get to the store, and realized there’s nothing there when it comes to the alleged “Portola” off ramp.
You wouldn’t know that from either traveling eastbound on Interstate 580 with the Portola off ramp sign directing you to drive this way, or even after you wend your way around the front of the airport over to the Isabel interchange, where once again the signs point to Portola Avenue.
So why are drivers being directed from the freeway, where the off ramp proudly proclaims this is it, but it isn’t? Adding continued frustration is the fact that you are then directed to go on the overpass to Portola Avenue.
And if you get that far, you realized that the road does not go through. In fact, it is blocked with no clear directions on how you are supposed to get to Portola from where you are now located.
Before even getting to the intersection, there should be a detour sign directing drivers to keep going along the frontage road to get to Portola.
But it doesn’t.
Simple question: Why didn’t the freeway powers-that-be drape the Portola part of the directions until the bridge is completed? Instead, we have a lot of frustrated people discovering there’s no way to get to Portola, or rather no easy way.
The entire East-West portion of the route is one big cluster muck. And one that could have been easily avoided with clear lanes paths painted and less obstacles.
It could also lead to accidents if people don’t exercise more caution when trying to commute through that confusing mess.
On Murrieta Boulevard, the left turn lane has inexplicably been shut down as you approach the intersection and on westbound Portola the left lane has been shut down to narrow the hole shot. It’s like a slalom course to just get around all the orange markers to make your way through the intersection and on to the frontage road toward the Isabel interchange.
And then it gets worse.
There are no painted lanes at the Isabel interchange to show drivers where to go, just faded white arrows that are difficult at best to read until you are right on top of them.
That’s just during the daylight hours.
At night, it’s all guesswork.
Night and day, confused drivers sit at green lights, unsure as to where they should be going.
And right smack dab in the middle of the intersection where you decide to go through toward Starbucks, the and or back through town rather than exiting to the freeway, there are huge orange barrel barriers that drivers must swerve around to avoid.
On Sunday, the lights were out and drivers were taking turns at the blinking red lights that served as a four-way stop. Except with the orange barrels jutting out, it was hard to see smaller cars — or especially motorcycles — that were waiting to dash out into traffic.
The lights have already been a problem, because they often don’t allow for more than a few cars to scamper across before changing to red.
For those who opt out of going across the intersection and just turn to get on the freeway, the intersection directs drivers going westbound to turn right at a detour to get to I-580 and Portola Avenue. If you are going on the freeway, the nightmare has ended. But we’ve already established that going to the Portola exit just leads to a dead end. If you go straight, you continue up to the Shea homes next to . Good for those going to their homes there or to Las Positas, kind of a waste for anyone else. The bridge to Portola should have been opened and completed at the same time to avoid some of the confusion and mess.
It all smacks of poor planning and execution to me.
Yes, I miss the easy access of getting on and off the old Portola off ramp, but I also recognize there were problems with it. There was no westbound off ramp from the freeway and the overpass to the westbound freeway from Portola was poorly designed. We needed a new off ramp, and this one can serve the city quite well.
But opening it up before clearly marking the lanes and removing barriers that act like obstacles was not done with safety as the primary goal.