County officials break ground on new I-680 express lane north of Valley


Transportation officials in Contra Costa County held a groundbreaking ceremony last week on a $127 million project that will add 11 miles of a southbound carpool express lane from Martinez to Walnut Creek, a move they hope will shorten drive times along Interstate 680 by 10 to 15 minutes.

When completed in 2021, the new carpool lane will connect to the existing southbound express lane that runs from Walnut Creek to San Ramon, accommodating more than 500 additional cars per hour along I-680 in what is one of the Bay Area's worst commutes.

"What we're witnessing today is really the process of reinventing the freeway," Caltrans District 4 Director Tony Tavares said during the Oct. 3 event at the northbound toll plaza of the Benicia-Martinez Bridge.

"We have several years of work ahead of us, but a major component in the Bay Area's future highway system starts right here, right now," Tavares said.

To complete the project, Caltrans has partnered with the Contra Costa Transportation Authority, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Federal Highway Administration. Orinda Mayor Amy Worth, who also represents the MTC, was present this morning, as were Contra Costa County supervisors Karen Mitchoff and Federal Glover.

According to MTC spokesman John Goodwin, the estimated project cost of $127 million includes $55 million for converting the existing carpool

lane from Martinez to Walnut Creek, $60 million for widening southbound I-680 through Walnut Creek, and $12 million for "system integration," or tying the new infrastructure into the existing carpool lane from Rudgear Road to the Alameda County line.

Funding sources include $51.3 million from the Bay Area Toll Authority, $36.9 million from Contra Costa County's Measure J sales tax, $19.4 million from Regional Measure 2 toll funds and $15.6 million from the Contra Costa Transportation Authority's State Transportation Improvement Program. An additional $3.8 million is expected to by covered by other MTC funding.

— Bay City News Service

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10 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Walnut Creek
on Oct 12, 2018 at 7:50 am

What we are really witnessing today is how the state is willing to spend our tax dollars in the efforts of converting an existing tax paid carpool lane into a current toll car pool lane. (Period) furthermore the future of the highway system does not need converted tax dollar payed lanes into more toll lanes it just needs more lanes. On and off ramps have no flow as well, lanes merging together cause traffic flow to come to hault, the whole highway system needs revamped. So please stop acting like you are doing the citzens of this county any favours.

6 people like this
Posted by Long Term Resident
a resident of Danville
on Oct 12, 2018 at 9:02 am

I fully agree with Walnut Creek Resident. The toll lanes have increased the number of accidents on I-680 substantially in the San Ramon Valley as people maneuver in and out of them. They are also discriminatory towards plumbers, electricians, and anyone who drives alone for business purposes and have no opportunity to carpool. It is also interesting how a state which prides itself on equality has introduced a system which clearly favors the elite who can afford to use the toll lanes. There is no way the opening of the new toll lanes should be viewed as a celebration unless you are one of the government officials which will benefit from additional revenue.

4 people like this
Posted by AC
a resident of Danville
on Oct 12, 2018 at 11:07 am

Totally agree with the above comments. Making a toll lane is just to get more revenue not necessarily to ease the traffic congestion. 2 things are badly needed for easing that. 1) more lanes 2) more and cheaper mass transit/public transportation. Without them the problem gonna stick around.

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