Posted 10/06/16, 9:53 am PST
The East Bay Westbound Highway, specifically I-80, has made a recent addition to on ramps in hopes to reduce vehicle accidents and the amount of traffic during peak hours of the commute. This past July, one of the busiest freeways in the Bay Area now includes metering lights, a $93 million investment that may only cause more problems to an already congested commute.
Residents of the East Bay are concerned that new meters will be ineffective for the movement of traffic and also actually increase traffic on the surface streets. The I-80 Smart Corridor says the new ramp meters “will adjust in real-time to current traffic patterns to smooth the flow of traffic merging onto I-80. As with standard ramp meters, motorists should stop when on-ramp traffic signals display red lights and proceed one car at a time when they display green lights.”
According to the State of California Department of Transportation, the lights were operating early in July but remained green to warn motorists of the new change that was going to be made on the morning and afternoon commutes. Through the month of July the lights gradually started to operate during rush hour traffic, and by early August they were in full effect. Now that these are in use, residents of the Bay Area are confused.
Erika Ramirez, a fellow commuter, shared that “The ramps are unnecessary and too small to support the stopped cars, because the ramps were not built for the intent of metering lights.”
In addition to the adding to the surface street traffic, some motorists do not abide by the lights, creating a risk for potential accidents. Some have even said that the lights can be a danger during different flows of traffic. Morena Pereira, a San Francisco commuter, says, “When cars make a complete stop, and then expect to reach the same speed as on-going traffic, this is a danger for ongoing traffic and incoming cars.” Pereira also believes that the lights are an unneeded addition and an inconvenience to the morning and afternoon commutes. Dominique Sta. Ana, who commutes to Cal State East Bay from Richmond, does not think that the lights were a problem, and has not noticed any difference in traffic. She also believes that once drivers get used to the lights, the improvements will be more noticeable.
Although the lights have only been in full use a couple of weeks, the added traffic to the local streets has not gone unnoticed. The metering lights are new and drivers are still getting used to them. As a commuter myself in the early morning and afternoon, I’ve noticed first hand how the traffic builds up every day. I have not seen an improvement to the morning congestion, and I have also seen new traffic build-ups along the surface streets that have on-ramp metering lights. To find out more information about the new Smart Ramp Meters head over to http://80smartcorridor.org.