At the risk of sounding like a geezer with nothing but complaints about changes in Livermore, let me start out by saying, "Gosh, the new 580 bridges and ramps look mighty pretty."
But overall, right now, they aren’t quite as practical as one might have hoped. And by “one” I mean me.
First the pats, then the knocks.
The Portola overpass was completed ahead of schedule. How often does that happen? Better yet, the overpass at Portola offers a spiffy bike lane for people who want to pedal over to Las Positas or Costco (if you have a trailer attached), which are about the only businesses in that area that generate a lot of traffic.
In our family, we refer to the Portola ramp as the “bridge to nowhere.” Now, I’m sure there’s going to be a "somewhere" soon, but for users right now it sure takes a long time to sweep around before you actually get to a destination spot.
When I used the bridge/ramp to get to Costco the other day, I felt like I should have packed a picnic lunch for the trip over. I did pass the street going up to Las Positas and, well, I guess this is a better way to get to the college.
But that’s of limited interest to a vast majority of users. I don’t attend the college. Nor do I teach there, although if a job opening comes up I could be available.
What would have been much more practical would have been a bridge like the one that used to be there but would have allowed an eastbound ramp right off of Portola.
And I’m still sad to lose that cheap little off ramp for eastbound traffic. It didn’t have much going for it style-wise but was extremely practical. A nice quick on ramp for eastbound traffic off of Portola would have been quite useful.
Like everyone else, I’ve heard the reason why the short eastbound off-ramp was shut down and the Portola on ramp going westbound had to be shut down. It had to do with some mumbo-jumbo government specs regarding the distance between two off ramps.
Let’s just put this out here: I’ve measured the distance between the Portola off ramps and the next closest on Isabel. It is no closer than many that currently exist off other highway corridors. But I understand rules and regulations change. That’s the beauty of them.
So no use in looking to the past. It’s done and this is what we have. But what we can improve on is the signal at the new intersection for the Isabel/I-580 interchange.
For several weekends last month, I was going into San Francisco and getting back between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. I point this out because I would take the off ramp, motor up to the deserted intersections and wait for an excruciatingly long time for my left turn light to go green.
It would take two rounds of light changes for phantom cars in all directions before I’d finally get the go signal. There were times when I was sorely tempted to just turn without benefit of a green light.
Later, after testing out that light during busier times, I realized that this wasn’t just a graveyard shift event. Often times the light would refuse to go green even when it was clearly our time to go.
Can I get a signal from someone in charge that this might change?