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Metering Light is Causing Gridlock

Original post made by Bill on Feb 3, 2014

Why is Caltrans allowed to turn on freeway metering lights when doing so causes gridlock on city streets? Today was the worst I have ever seen the section of Bernal leading to the southbound i680 on ramp. Bernal/Valley was gridlocked, Koll Center Drive was gridlocked, The northbound off/on ramp intersection was gridlocked, and traffic eastbound on Bernal was backed up to the Alamo Canal bridge. I thought that the city had an input into when metering lights could be turned on. It is becoming dangerous along this stretch of road in morning as people do the craziest things to try and cut ahead of the other cars. To add insult to injury, i680 was free flowing with cars driving 55+mph from Pleasanton to Washington Blvd in Fremont. Traffic was backed up on Auto Mall Parkway because the signal lights at Auto Mall and i680 were blinking red (controlled by Caltrans of course).

Comments (43)

Posted by Formerly Dan from BC, a resident of Bridle Creek
on Feb 3, 2014 at 1:12 pm

Formerly Dan from BC is a registered user.

Same goes for the metering light for the Sunol blvd entrance to 680 south. Ridiculous.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Feb 3, 2014 at 1:33 pm

I would be the least bit surprised if Guv from NJ is behind the trick!

B U S T E D!

Posted by traffic, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2014 at 6:22 am

Just wait until the current and future planned ~3500-4500 new housing units are built across Pleasanton, traffic on Bernal and Sunol will be a nightmare.

Posted by Sergio, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Feb 4, 2014 at 8:30 am

Agreed. This is getting pretty terrible. Anyone know what's the best way to bring this to the attention of authorities? Who should we connect with?

Seems to me some minor tinkering with the metering lights would ease buildup at the ramp without significantly affecting flow on 680.

Posted by Rick, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2014 at 8:49 am

Call the city Traffic Engineers - office hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Staff is available during these times to discuss your traffic related questions or concerns. The general number is 925.931.5677.

Traffic counts map:

Web Link

Posted by Rick, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2014 at 8:50 am

This current traffic map may be more help;

Web Link

Posted by Ben Johansen, a resident of Birdland
on Feb 4, 2014 at 9:53 am

Here's hoping the Pleasanton traffic engineers actually go out and do real time analysis and studies.

Posted by AndyB, a resident of Sycamore Heights
on Feb 4, 2014 at 10:09 am

I think the problem is the metering light gets stuck on red as if it doesn't detect the presence of a car. Both yesterday and today on the Sunol on-ramp, I 've seen cars sit there for minutes while the light stayed red. Only when the car finally gave up and started through the red light, did the light turn green. After that, the light alternated green and red as it normally does. I think the problem is the car sensor is working intermittently. I sent in a report on the Caltrans maintenance web site.

Posted by Karen, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Feb 4, 2014 at 10:42 am

On Monday, February 3rd, I left my house in the Vintage Hills neighborhood at 7:00 and did not get onto the freeway at Sunol until 7:40! It was awful. 40 minutes to go less than 3 miles. And, as stated earlier, the traffic was moving fast on the freeway. There needs be some sort of way the lights can be turned off to make the street traffic flow. Super frustrating!

Posted by Gevo, a resident of Downtown
on Feb 4, 2014 at 11:17 am

AndyB is correct. The red light is staying red and not detecting cars. From what I saw, the lights are on a roughly four-second cycle (red for four seconds, then green, then red for four seconds, then green). However, yesterday on every third cycle the red light would stay lit for well over a minute instead of the usual four seconds. I called the city planner/traffic department and they said they have gotten many complaints but that CalTrans maintains and controls the metering lights. He indicated that his supervisor was working with CalTrans to resolve the problem, but also noted that CalTrans "moves slowly." He also recommended that I submit a complaint to CalTrans directly via their website, which I did. You can, too, at this link: Web Link I imagine the more complaints they receive the faster they may move, so please take the time to submit a report! It may help more than grumbling here will do. ;)

At any rate, I doubt that this is a permanent change to the metering lights (as some of the comments above seem to imply), but rather is a malfunction. Let's just hope it gets resolved soon. Yesterday it took me a full 40 minutes to get from the corner of Bernal and First to the metering lights at the Sunol onramp... which are only 1.3 miles away from that intersection!

Posted by 680 South, a resident of Mohr Park
on Feb 4, 2014 at 11:56 am

Something is definately wrong at these two metering light locations. I followed link above to post complaint to CalTrans. Hoping every posting helps.

Posted by Mike T., a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Mike T. is a registered user.

The City contacted Caltrans Monday afternoon to troubleshoot the metering problems. The Sunol metering appears to be skipping phases which limits the number of vehicles entering the Sunol ramp.

Caltrans monitored the locations this morning and implemented some changes for tomorrow morning's commute.

The City will continue to work with Caltrans to reduce the metering delay.

Mike Tassano
Deputy Director of Community Development, Transportation

Posted by Bill, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 4, 2014 at 12:12 pm

By gridlock I do not mean bumper to bumper traffic. I meant that cars could not turn left or right because the intersections on Bernal would remain blocked the entire traffic light cycle. Cars are starting to use the Safeway shopping center to short cut the Bernal/Valley to Koll Center Drive portion. Cars are making U turns at W Lagoon Road in order to enter the i680 southbound ramp from the eastbound direction of Bernal. I was hoping that Mike Tassano would chime in to offer what solutions, if any he and his engineers were working on. Gridlock is unacceptable. There should be law that a freeway metering light cannot cause traffic to back up on city streets except in lanes dedicated to the freeway entrance. There should also be a law that local cities should have some control of the metering lights to enable resolution of problematic signaling or to clear major traffic jams. Obviously Caltrans could care less if the 3 mile drive across Pleasanton to the freeway entrance takes 40 minutes.

Posted by Bill, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 4, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Appreciate the comments and concern Mike. By the way, thanks for the good work on the Stoneridge/Santa Rita intersection. The Stroneridge to Santa Rita merging lane and city bus bump out have been long overdue. Good job to all who made it happen.

Posted by Ennis, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Feb 4, 2014 at 12:55 pm

There was also a car with a flat tire on the shoulder 30 yards past the Bernal on-ramp along with a tow truck with its lights flashing = rubber necking and slowing things further. Combine that with an accident on Sunol Blvd at the start of the on-ramp with a couple of PPD cars = rubber necking and slowing things further. I completely agree with the comment above regarding the impact the new housing construction will cause. Monday morning is going to become a daily occurance. The day will start at 4:30 am instead of 5:00 in order to beat traffic and quality of life will suffer....

Posted by TT, a resident of Birdland
on Feb 4, 2014 at 2:07 pm

Can't imagine why any changes were made to these metering lights. They were working fine (acceptable). Now they are Not!(UNacceptable!) I was late to work both days.

Posted by 680 North, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2014 at 9:09 pm

When will this be resolved?

Posted by Gevo, a resident of Downtown
on Feb 4, 2014 at 9:20 pm

I heard back from CalTrans after I submitted my complaint this morning. Here is the response I got this afternoon:

Situation Acknowledged. Unable to estimate time needed.

Additional Message: You will be notified that the problem has been resolved as soon as I hear back from the maintenance crew. Thank you.

???? Your guess is as good as mine!

Posted by Paula, a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Feb 5, 2014 at 12:21 am

You know this is bad and it will only get worse. We now have one massive city from San Jose in the south and out to Tracy. Pleasanton streets are usually gridlock after 4:30 or so and especially on Fridays. Costs a fortune to ride bart and now the freeways we have already paid for are being turned into toll roads. No answers and it will only get worse I fear.

Posted by Resist the Diseased Ones!, a resident of Parkside
on Feb 5, 2014 at 12:50 am

Ah, Paula just said the magic word: BART. Obviously union officials have been using their ill-gotten monstrous profits to pay off their tools to short-circuit the entrance ramp meters. When people get fed up with the gridlock, they'll start to rely more upon BART and thus provide unions with yet another excuse for an exorbinant raise.

Posted by Paula, a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Feb 5, 2014 at 1:50 am

So once again we are back to democrats, lobs, and unions again? I wonder how many of the people complaining here voted dem and will continue to do so?

Posted by Sergio, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Feb 5, 2014 at 7:34 am

Back to normal this morning! Hopefully it stays like this. If that's due to the work of CalTrans or the city, kudos for finding a quick resolution.

Of course, 680 southbound is also slower (as usual) but I think it's a more reasonable compromise.

Posted by JV, a resident of Charter Oaks
on Feb 5, 2014 at 9:03 am

At least Sunol has 2 cars per's really dangerous near Bernal and road rage when we're blocking through traffic and when people travelling from the west of Foothill Rd to the S680 on ramp and jump in front of 6 cars that have been waiting for 5+min on the ramp....also others coming East on Bernal; instead of turning left onto the S680 ramp are going up towards Foothill and making u-turns. The city should setup a video camera and watch...This starts at 6:50am. Yes, the metering lights are on before 7am.

Posted by Stacy, a resident of another community
on Feb 5, 2014 at 9:55 am

Traffic throughout our corridors has gotten progressively slower ever since around 2008. Coincidence? Also, if you're unhappy with traffic remember that the Democrat party controls the state legislature. Oh, and need I remind you who are governor is? And don't forget whose our president. Need I say more?

Posted by Michael L., a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Feb 5, 2014 at 2:19 pm

It was so bad on Monday that I turned around and went home after taking about 15 minutes to go two blocks and seeing nothing but gridlock ahead for many blocks. I was glad to see that this light was being adjusted today.

I've seen this light on red when I'm the only car on the ramp and traffic is flowing on the freeway. I'm not sure why people would sit at this light for more than a few seconds. It's a ridiculous situation.

The problem is that as the economy improves more people are getting jobs in San Jose but living in Tracy and cutting through Pleasanton. Something needs to be done about the cut through traffic.

Posted by Commuter, a resident of Canyon Oaks
on Feb 6, 2014 at 9:53 am

I echo many of the comments above. On Monday, it took me 50 mins to get on 680S from Case Ave. On Tuesday, about 15 mins, but today everything seemed normal. Thank you to the City staff and Caltrans for getting the metering lights fixed.

Posted by Scott Walsh, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Feb 6, 2014 at 9:59 am

Pack Council Chamber at next meeting if you want action where "BEATING YOUR GUMS" might be more beneficial. People must show their discontent at the meetings, not some meaningless newspaper website.

Posted by Formerly Dan from BC, a resident of Bridle Creek
on Feb 6, 2014 at 10:28 am

Formerly Dan from BC is a registered user.

I saw a technician checking out the control panel at the Sunol location yesterday at around 10am.


Posted by Daily Commuter, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2014 at 10:34 am

To Mike Tassano,

I appreciate you taking the time to post here, and acknowledge and address the problem, as I did see a Caltrans employee (albeit sitting in his Caltrans-logo'd car) sitting on the shoulder of the Sunol Blvd. on-ramp to SB I-680 on Wednesday morning.

Unfortunately, you fail to acknowledge that there NEVER was this kind of backup on this on-ramp before the metering lights were installed and turned on--you, of course, work for the City, and don't have to deal with the daily commute like those of us posting here (and thousands of others).

To all: you think it's bad now, just wait until those THOUSANDS of additional high-density apartments are built and add that many more commuters to the mix.

Mr. Tassano, the Mayor, and City Councilmembers long-ago decided "the streets can handle it." They're dead wrong, and they know it.

Don't patronize me--the traffic situation in Pleasanton is bad, and is only going to get worse.

Ask Mr. Tassano about First Street, btw--there is NOTHING the City can do to improve/widen it, and unless they can force Caltrans to TURN OFF THE METERING LIGHTS (which I'm sure they can't), get used to these nightmare back-ups on both the Sunol and Bernal on-ramps to SB I-680. They're not going away.

Thanks so much, Mr. Tassano, Mr. Mayor City Councilmembers, for turning Pleasanton into traffic hell virtually each and every morning.

Posted by Meatballs, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2014 at 11:19 am

Caltrans is a meatball entity, and the Pleasanton City Traffic Engineer is a meatball. Therefore, this situation is meatballs squared.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Feb 6, 2014 at 11:49 am

Does the "meatball" have gravy?

Posted by Kate, a resident of Carriage Gardens
on Feb 6, 2014 at 1:53 pm

The Sunol Blvd backup also has become a problem because of all the people going down Sunol Blvd past Castlewood Drive and then making a u-turn on Happy Valley and going back up Sunol Blvd to the freeway entrance. They do this to miss the longer back-up on Sunol but for those of us that live in the neighborhood and use Happy Valley and Sunol Blvd everyday it gets to be a nightmare. I've almost been hit numerous times now in the morning while trying to take my daughter to Foothill HS. I've seen police higher up on Happy Valley but no one at the Happy Valley/Sunol cross street to see how many cars do this on a daily basis. VERY FRUSTRATING!

Posted by PPL, a resident of Birdland
on Feb 6, 2014 at 2:37 pm

I've been forced to do this a couple of times because people wouldn't leave me into the correct lane as far back as Valley, so no option put to keep going and turn back.

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Feb 6, 2014 at 6:32 pm

If the metering light is red, wait for it to turn green. If you drive through a red metering light, the CHP will pull you over and write a citation. I saw this happen on 680 and Mission at 880. Creep up towards the red metering light, try to trip the road sensor to change it to green.

Posted by Driver, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2014 at 3:20 pm

That is WHAT meter lights do ! ! ! Just like the lanes you're not allowed to drive in CAUSE gridlock. Our BayArea brains who CONTROL of lives have different perspectives on everything than we do. Sad, we surrendered our lives for them to control us. Allowing them control of our roads, our streets, our AC thermostats, our garbage, our neighborhoods, etc, etc, etc.!!

Posted by Amazing, a resident of Birdland
on Feb 9, 2014 at 3:34 pm

You people blow me away. You vote for the most liberal of people to represent us with the most weird points of view to control every aspect of your lives because you are not nearly smart enough to make good decisions on your own and then we the elected officials you voted for start controlling your lives you complain. The really sad thing is that you will continue to vote for these idiots because you are sheeple. You consider voting for libertarians.

Posted by Problem, a resident of Mohr Elementary School
on Feb 12, 2014 at 11:37 am

To me the far bigger problem is the amount of traffic in this town and the fact that no one seems to be speaking about a solution to it.

Yesterday afternoon around 4 I needed to go to Walgreen's and I live by Mohr School. I leave and turn left onto Stoneridge and cannot believe the traffic heading towards Livermore on this road. As I stop to make my left run at the light on Stoneridge and Santa Rita Road I can see nothing but cars waiting to go on through the light both towards Livermore on Stoneridge and also people trying to go on Santa Rita towards 580 (actually the Santa Rita traffic was so bad going this direction that people did not make the light who had been waiting in line). As I get to the corner of Stoneridge and Valley I can see cars backed up both on Valley heading towards Livermore (Stanley) and on Santa Rita all the way back to the light at Alisal School. I go in to Walgreens do my business and get ready to leave and then realize it will be impossible to get out on Valley to turn left so I turn right onto Santa Rita and have to drive down and turn right on Black then right again onto Greewood. I have to drive through Birdland before I can turn right onto Mohr and drive through the light on Santa Rita so that I can take the backroads back to my home. Quite a journey and reminded me that I hear nothing from our city leaders about resolving this problem.

Here is one proposed solution. How about transponders mailed free of charge to residents of Pleasanton allowing free usage of the roads in town. Anyone traveling on our roads during designated hours without a transponder would be ticked either by a policeman or via video and the mail.

This may sound farfetched by its an idea and could be built upon. After all the country is going to start charging us a toll fee on the highways we paid to build.

Posted by Bill, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 12, 2014 at 1:12 pm

One problem is that 46% of i580 traffic during commute times comes from San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties. I don't ever remember these counties offering to help Alamada county with road improvement funds to better absorb all their commuters into our communities. I do know that our own county supervisors want to fleece the taxpayers to pay for road improvements so that commuters on the other side of Altamont will have an easier commute. Our own mayor, Jerry Thorne, sits on the Alameda Joint Powers committe for traffic congestion. And like people have stated above, all we hear is silence to a problem that is only getting bigger. I feel like Pleasanton commuters are becoming the sacrificial lamb in favor of people that commute 100+ miles a day by choice.

Posted by Samer, a resident of Del Prado
on Feb 12, 2014 at 4:10 pm

I like the suggestion above and honestly it is the only suggestion I have heard from anyone including our elected officials and the ones we pay to resolve issues like this for a living.

Posted by Driver, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2014 at 5:32 pm

Valley and Santa Rita is by far the worst intersection in Pleasanton. 8am, 12 noon, 2:30-3:30pm, and 4:30-5:30, avoid it. Well, reading that, it sort of looks like it's impossible most of the day. Stoneridge/Livermore connection did not ease anything!! Apparently, nobody knows Stoneridge connection is open, which is a good way to avoid Livermore traffic too.
I'm OK with transponders to block traffic, but how can we block out Livermore drivers who have jobs here.
Almost ALL the 'TRAFFIC' issues are around our schools and HACIENDA B P. The very BEST solution for Hacienda to be 'good neighbors' would be a very serious, concentrated, company enforced effort at 'staggered' hours. The 'time specific' gridlock could be better managed. SO would Livermore
traffic, with CARPOOLING in and out, to/from Hacienda jobs.
Best option, a specific business provided single bus (ie google) with maybe 4 Livermore stops, and 4 park drops. Or, Staggered company/bus arrangement. City should demand of HBP companies with over 12 employees. And, or enforce van carpools. Let the park submit 3 options to city, after discussing with Traffic. Pleasanton should not have Eastside roadblocks, that could be managed. We have not even 'started' the huge ABAG mandated government mass-stacked housing dumped on the Eastside/Stanley. That Stanley backup will dwarf and worsen the Valley/Santa Rita gridlock. Hacienda better hit the drawing boards now for a company transportation genuine 'solution' of their choice, before it's done for them.

Posted by Driver, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2014 at 5:49 pm

Bill, San Joaquin has absolutely NOTHING to do with Valley and Santa Rita gridlock at 8:, 12:, and 4:30. Those are Livermore, Ruby Hill, Vineyard single commuter job cars, that should be in 4-5 mid-size, 30 person vans, shared by companies.
Livermore BART down the MIDDLE 580 to Hacienda stop would be a HUGE improvement. Altamont cars park at Vasco, them board BART to Hacienda. No NEW Stanley, traffic at Valley/Santa Rita and outlet/Stoneridge Dr traffic which would still be backed up with Pleasanton RESIDENTS commuting to Hacienda (who could/should also carpool/van too). It will require 580 BART, and Stoneridge Dr/HACIENDA BP vans to put a dent in the current intersection gridlock, and quick BEFORE Stanley stacking starts.

Posted by Paul, a resident of Danbury Park
on Feb 12, 2014 at 6:21 pm

Don't kid yourself about Stoneridge as people have discovered it. The advantage it has in keeping down traffic is that it funnels everything down to one lane and a right one lane at that. One lane across bridge and then opens up to two for short distance then back to one lane again. I like the transponder idea and the issuance of tickets to people without one. At least we could gain some revenue for road maintenance. At the end of the day there are just way to many people in this state. I bet we have 15% of the nations population and not including illegals either. I feel sorry for people who have to commute everyday.

Posted by Driver, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2014 at 7:15 pm

The whole idea of Hacienda was to create jobs for this area, to create sales dollar/tax revenues, to support our community amenities. There are some tradeoffs. Transportation to/from those jobs is part of the Hacienda revenue package. Reducing useable lanes on freeways or Stoneridge accomplish nothing except create their own backups at peak times.
This is a Hacienda issue to be solved. We have to let Livermore workers into Pleasanton. But Hacienda should provide commuter van service in continuous rotation, rather than cars from Livermore. Remember restaurants and shops WANT customers!!! This is a Hacienda problem as responsible neighbors. Of course, dare I also say, school busses would eliminate the mid-day madness on Pleasanton streets. Moms in their own mini-busses who don't know how it fit between the allowed parking lines, are a whole other irritant. Thus requiring circling the lot to find a whole space without a sloppy parker hanging over the line.
Narrowing or eliminating lanes is not a traffic solution.

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