San Jose Ave Exit to Return to Two Lanes

The 280 freeway offramp to San Jose Avenue will return to a two-lane configuration, owing to a high number of accidents following an experiment to slow traffic by narrowing it.

Seven accidents were recorded on the offramp between June and November, 2015, after engineers reconfigured the two exit lanes to merge into one lane just before the Monterey Street underpass. The offramp reconfiguration was the second phase of the Northbound San Jose Avenue & I-280 Off-Ramp Road Diet Pilot Project, which was intended to slow traffic on San Jose Avenue south of Randall.

In Phase I of that project, San Jose Avenue itself was reduced from three lanes to two. When that measure did not slow traffic, Phase II was implemented, and the offramp was reduced from two lanes to two lanes merging to one.

Since Phase II also failed to reduce speeds and reduce traffic volumes but did increase the number of accidents, Caltrans has decided to return the offramp to its original state. The road is scheduled to be re-paved in May, then re-striped.

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19 Comments

Filed under City road work, Uncategorized

19 responses to “San Jose Ave Exit to Return to Two Lanes

  1. What idiot was responsible for deciding to change it to a one lane exit in the first place?
    The let’s-make-one-lane-out-of-two decisions around SF are ludicrous.

  2. Jon

    I’ll resist saying “I told you so”…well, maybe not :).

    On behalf of the many, many folks who have to use this exit and corridor for their commutes to work each and every day, let me say “Thank you!” to the powers-that-be for admitting to this mistake and correcting it.

    Classic case of a “solution” is search of a problem that was never particularly significant in the first place…

    Jon

  3. Brian

    Now they need to fix the timing of the lights on the Southbound 280 Monterey exit. Someone will get killed sitting in the right lane of 280 waiting to get off the freeway. Ever since the new lights were put in, getting off 280 has become a mess.

  4. Peter

    They also should bring back the third lane on San Jose.

    • Jon

      That would be my next recommendation as well. I still see only a couple of bikes (at best) using this lane each day versus the 100s if not thousands of cars that need to use this stretch.

      From a cost/benefit analysis, this bike lane was and never will be worthwhile other than making the backups worse.

      But the bike lobbyists are strong in SF so I don’t expect this lane will be restored anytime soon if ever.

      Still, I’ll take the re-widening of the exit lane as a wonderful positive for the day 🙂 .

    • Grego

      Troll or serious? It’s important to keep cyclists safe from the fast traffic coming off 280N. At two exit lanes into two through lanes, the upcoming state hopefully will be quick and safe for all. I can’t wait, that merge is terrible.

      • Peter

        There was a separate bike lane, only it wasn’t a whole lane wide. But there is no need for a whole lane-wide bike lane for the one or two bikes an hour that pass

  5. Leon

    i will with no shame join in on the gloating by saying a big:
    “DUH!”

    sadly, i feel for those people that may have been injured or had to incur costly repairs to their cars, for a needless experiment that was so clearly flawed from the beginning. where has all the common sense gone these days.

  6. Justin

    Maybe if Caltrans considered making the exit to San Jose Ave one lane in its entirety, those collisions would have been prevented, in addition to the much needed traffic calming nearby residents requested for. It’s too bad they won’t even consider that option as a good fix and compromise

  7. Leonardo Calderon

    It is now June, when will this be done?
    Leo

  8. Jonathan Koolpe

    I also would like an update…it’s now almost July and the exit remains as 1 lane only. Seems like now would be the best time to restore it to 2 lanes as the traffic is less for the next couple of months since the schools are out for the summer.

    Hopefully this can get done soon to undo what should never have been done in the first place…

  9. August 1st now. No changes that I have noticed. What’s up?

  10. Heather World

    Though Caltrans determined the offramp should return to two lanes for reasons of safety and efficiency, a third party was asked to assess the safety and efficacy of a one-lane offramp (which is different from the present configuration—two lanes merging into one—which is different from the original configuration—two-lane offramp).

    The GPA Transportation Committee was set to meet with the San Francisco Country Transportation Authority last week to hear the results of this third-party study, but the meeting was cancelled because so many city folks are on vacation. I look forward to a rescheduled date and will be sure to update the blog if/when we learn anything.

    Also, as far as I can tell, the 35 mph white speed limit sign you see when you first emerge from the underpass is flat out wrong. The speed limit on that street remains 45 mph. (Yellow diamond signs with speed limits on them are advisory and different than the white rectangular speed limit signs. Do expect to see yellow diamond advisory speeds of 35 mph in the final configuration on SJA, but the actual speed limit is 45 mph.)

    • Jon

      Thank you Heather for this update.

      As usual, bureaucracy/excessive government appears to be delaying something that should be a no-brainer. Can’t say that I’m surprised…

      As it’s now the 4th week of August and the schools are back open, the backup at this exit was again quite noxious this morning.

      Is there any new word as to when this other meeting will happen and/or when the work can begin to get the exit back to 2 lanes?

      Jon

      • Heather World

        Hi Jon,

        Thanks for the poke. I called the county contact today and asked her to re-schedule the meeting that is supposed to update us on the third-party assessment of the off-ramp situation. She said she will set up a meeting in the next two to three weeks. I’m sorry I don’t have actual information—I agree it’s quite frustrating not to know one way or the other.

        After this post, I had written an article about the offramp for the summer issue of the GPN, which had more detail, though looking at it now I see one important paragraph got left out. The contract for the freeway offramp (which is different than the contract for all the work north of the offramp—that work is being done in conjunction with all the sewer replacement along SJA) was to be awarded by the end of May, says my story draft. It includes projects at other sites, all of which should be wrapped up by December, according to the Caltrans spokesman.

        I suspect the freeway offramp repaving will come down to the wire—that it will be the last task on the contractor’s list of things that need doing in this contract, so think December. But I will send an update before then, obviously. I think if you’re experiencing alarming close calls, you might consider calling 311. (Something I always say I’m going to do about any number of issues and rarely do.) It will help the city to know that people feel unsafe (or safe, as the case may be) at the exit.

        Thanks,
        Heather

  11. Jon

    Thanks Heather!

    I did not know about the 311 option. I will call it to report what I have encountered. Hopefully, others will do the same to try to get this particular project expedited.

    I even encounter these unsafe backups on weekends when I occasionally have to use this offramp on a Saturday or Sunday…it’s so annoying and unnecessary.

    Jon

  12. Noah

    Sometime around Sept 2 or 3, an orange Caltrans sign went up along the exit to indicate pending temporary closure of the San Jose exit. If my memory serves me correctly, today (Sept 7) was supposed to be the first day that exit was to be closed, though I didn’t get a good look because I was too busy trying to negotiate the lane merger and get off 280. Maybe the work will start late tonight?

    At any rate, I’ve written emails to the genius project planners who thought this was the right solution to reduce accidents (both bikes and cars). Included were snapshots of two different, horrible highway crashes that I observed in the past couple of months related to the reduced-lane exit. Since then, I’ve observed two more serious highway accidents (one that looked fatal).

    I cross the northbound San Jose exit five times a week, and have for years. Each day, I spend anywhere from one to five minutes on that offramp. To see that many accidents — that never appeared there before — should be sufficient evidence that this was a stupid decision.

    To ask folks flying down the highway at 65-70 mph to first merge right to the exit, then immediately merge left to enter the tunnel at the overpass, all the while folks are backing up on the fourth (of five) lanes, was so patently dumb, that it’s incredible it wasn’t stopped sooner by NHTSA.

  13. Heather World

    I saw that today too and asked the folks at SFCTA about it. They are the ones who conducted the third-party study of the off-ramp situation. No one has replied to me yet, but I’ll post here if they do.

    Good news: Looks like they have finally scheduled a meeting with the GPA, SFMTA and whatever other agencies they wanted to invite. It’s set for Sept. 22. I’ll be out of town, but I’m thinking I will take my computer anyway and try to publish something immediately after the meeting. (Looks like two other GPA Transportation Committee reps will go. I’ll be in NYC. yay!)

  14. Anonymous

    Looks like work is underway. What a disaster of an idea and project that was so obviously a bad idea to so many

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