ramps lights 9_26_13

The onramp to eastbound Interstate 80 at Beck Avenue. The eastbound ramp metering lights are set to open in early 2014. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic)

Solano County

Caltrans to activate ramp metering lights on Feb. 18

By From page A1 | January 08, 2014

SUISUN CITY — Ramp metering lights on eastbound Interstate 80 in Fairfield are to debut on Feb. 18 for the evening rush hour.

It’s been a slow rollout. The state Department of Transportation installed most of the lights in Fairfield in 2011. At the time, it announced the cost as being about $4.9 million.

Dan McElhinney, deputy director of Caltrans District Four, will attend the Solano Transportation Authority Board of Directors meeting on Wednesday to give details and answer questions about the upcoming activation of the lights.

Mayors from Solano County’s seven cities and a county supervisor sit on the board. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the Suisun City Council chamber, 701 Civic Center Blvd.

“It’s part of the public awareness campaign,” Solano Transportation Authority Executive Director Daryl Halls said. “It’s an informational presentation.”

Ramp metering lights are designed to keep platoons of bunched-up vehicles from entering I-80. The lights act as traffic signals to space out the traffic, changing from red to green every few seconds. The goal is to make the freeway traffic flow more smoothly.

Ultimately, Caltrans and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission want to install and activate ramp metering lights throughout Solano County. The lights being activated in Fairfield on Feb. 18 is to be only a beginning.

Halls said the initial step is for lights to be activated on eastbound I-80 in Fairfield for the Thursday and Friday evening rush hours.

“They’re only going to be turned on when they’re needed,” Halls said. “That’s Thursday and Friday. The rest of the time, they will be green. You’ll just drive through as you do now. If they’re green, you go forward. It’s not a huge change.”

Caltrans could also use the ramp metering lights if a freeway accident takes place, he said.

“Let’s say a truck takes out a couple of lanes,” Halls said. “They can use ramp metering to slow down traffic getting on, so emergency vehicles can get there.”

The ramp metering lights are part of a larger effort by Caltrans to use technology to better manage the highway system, Halls said. He mentioned as another example the freeway traffic signs that give information on accidents.

A second proposed step is to activate ramp metering lights along both eastbound and westbound I-80 from Redwood Street in Vallejo to Interstate 505 in Vacaville, possibly in early 2015. A final step would be to activate ramp metering lights in the remainder of the county, when money is found to install the lights, according to a report done for the Solano Transportation Authority a few months ago.

Caltrans has already activated ramp metering lights in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Contra Costa counties in the Bay Area. The agency started experimenting with the lights in Southern California during the 1960s. The Los Angeles-Ventura area has 900 ramp metering lights.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.

Discussion | 27 comments

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  • The MisterJanuary 07, 2014 - 6:17 am

    Agenda 21.

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  • CD BrooksJanuary 07, 2014 - 6:57 am

    “They’re only going to be turned on when they’re needed.” If that were true, they never would have ben installed in the first place.

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  • SixStrRzrJanuary 07, 2014 - 7:09 am

    Let's just hope they do not activate metering lights at eastbound 12/Jameson Cyn Rd to EB 80. This would, in my opinion, effectively shut down HW 12 traffic, which is already at critical mass due to the on-(and on, and on) going widening construction.

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  • Danny BuntinJanuary 07, 2014 - 6:04 pm

    They are literally moving mountains, but it does seem like the contractor is getting paid by the hour instead of a flat rate on the job.

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  • MarkJanuary 07, 2014 - 9:58 am

    wonder if a study was ever done to see what the vehicles that get backed up on the on-ramp (the only on-ramp that might have this problem is from Travis Blvd), will do to the surface streets? But really, the metering lights in Fairfield are a waste of taxpayers dollars. The city should just go take them down and tell the state tough we don't want your metering lights.

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  • TylerJanuary 08, 2014 - 6:06 am

    Travis Blvd, true, but also true of WB Air Base for drivers trying to get onto I80. They already back up both sides of Heath Drive at busy times and it's made worse by the unsynchronized signals before and on the overpass.

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  • SixStrRzrJanuary 08, 2014 - 7:10 am

    Actually, if you dig into the background stories on the metering lights, you'll see that the State is holding local funds hostage for any cities (VV,FF,Vallejo) who try to oppose the metering lights. The state doesn't care about surface street impacts - their only goal is to keep traffic moving on I-80.

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  • Stan D. OwnJanuary 08, 2014 - 7:31 am

    Yes we should all protest and get CALTRANS to take out these metering lights.

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  • TylerJanuary 08, 2014 - 9:35 am

    I think I remember that it begins with the feds holding those stimulus dollars hostage unless a lot of silly but pc bells and whistles were included. I imagine someone has a relative in the metering light biz. But feds, state, really none of it matters - those dollars still come from your and my taxes.

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  • Stu PedideahJanuary 07, 2014 - 11:27 am

    Anyone want to take bets as to how many fatal accidents per year will occur on the westbound Hwy 12 and Hwy 80 interchange, where there is a huge blind curve before the metering lights? Oh, and where vehicles will already be travelling at highway speeds?

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  • Cal Q. LatorJanuary 07, 2014 - 3:00 pm

    Sounds Expensive.....How much will all this additional technology cost?

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  • Blake LitesJanuary 07, 2014 - 6:27 pm

    Sure sounds like it will actually slow down entry to the freeway. We should all watch the car in front of us very carefully.

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  • Eric IdleJanuary 07, 2014 - 6:50 pm

    Yes, sounds like it could cause the Holy Grail of all surface street congestions. I hate sitting in traffic back ups, doing nothing, would this not actually cause more air pollution, what with the engines never getting up to speed? Blody bunch of peasants, BTW....What is the Capital of Assyria?

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  • Fess ParkerJanuary 08, 2014 - 11:34 am

    I have a confession....I am going to give up...too much government intervention here, and too much traffic....I am going to downsize and park my but in the woods from now on.

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  • Daniel B. OondogleJanuary 09, 2014 - 8:55 am

    First let me say this in appreciation of our system of roads....I have never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks....In this situation I was constantly exposed to danger and death......But still, I was happy in the midst of dangers and inconveniences.........Ha ha,,,Just my Philosophy of Life I guess......

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  • Troy (John) HoraceJanuary 09, 2014 - 11:35 am

    Yeah, me too...First some Philosophy.....The pen is the tongue of the mind...........Anger is a short madness..........We need to watch this closely because.........What we learn only through the ears makes less impression upon our minds than what is presented to the trustworthy eye........... and Wisdom is not wisdom, when it is derived from books alone, ( for you Caltrans planners ).....Now for you Drivers (and you the voting public).......One wanders to the left, another to the right. Both are equally in error, but, are seduced by different delusions............OK.... So what I am wondering is (it is all Greek to me, from a Roman perspective ).... Is this some kind of trick to just sell more meters?........Is this just a subterfuge, something to do with a new UN Agenda 21 plan to tax us for the amount of driving we do?........Like the Metering Lights could be modified to remotely record your entry onto the.... "Free"way.... and then they would "charge" you for driving on it? Beware Caltrans bearing gifts??????.....Let me leave you with this thought..........Whatever advice you give, be short. [(Note....I am a hippo-crite) ( Note .... See this is funny cause, hippo is a combining form meaning “horse" in Latin) ]

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  • Horatio HornblowerJanuary 10, 2014 - 12:28 am

    HONK....If you don't like Metering Lights.....Seriously, if traffic is backing up and nobody is "weighting anchor", then someone must take "Command of the Ship" and blare our horns in protest, as we so annoyingly see during actual traffic backups.

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  • JimJanuary 07, 2014 - 9:36 pm

    New east bound 2 lanes on Hyw 12 going down to 1 lane of on ramp to east bound I-80. Traffic will back up on the new east bound lanes of Hyw 12. Opps!

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  • JimJanuary 07, 2014 - 9:41 pm

    When the new lights go red, the hyw 12 traffic will back-up even more going to east 80. Great mess Cal Trans!

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  • Joy RyderJanuary 08, 2014 - 7:23 am

    Metering lights will kinda take the fun out of something as simple as getting on the freeway.

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  • Bill D. AbareJanuary 08, 2014 - 8:17 am

    These transportation officials have their plans that sound so soft, fluffy ,cuddly and helpful, but implementation wise these plans cause the rest of us to bear the cost.

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  • innovationinstitutellcJanuary 08, 2014 - 10:56 am

    Complain all you want. The county mayors and STA are working hard to make a tough traffic issue better. Thanks.

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  • Eve CarpediemJanuary 08, 2014 - 11:04 am

    Please post....Yes, I protest also. I don't mean to carp but we will be spending all night and day backed up on the surface streets just waiting to get on the freeway.

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  • LeaveMeAloneJanuary 08, 2014 - 1:31 pm

    Do you really believe that? If you do, I've got a bridge or two for sale, cheap. Laughable: "...working hard to make a tough traffic issue better..." Just plain silly talk.

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  • Eve CarpediemJanuary 08, 2014 - 10:59 am

    Yes, I protest also. We will be spending all night and day backed up on the surface streets just waiting to get on the freeway.

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  • HORNBLOWER 3 The Duchess And The DevilJanuary 10, 2014 - 6:55 am


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  • Ford Exec: ‘We Know Everyone Who Breaks The Law’ Thanks To Our GPS In Your CarJanuary 10, 2014 - 8:22 am

    JIM EDWARDS Business Insider January 9, 2014..........Big Brother really is watching everything we do.....Ford’s Global VP/Marketing and Sales, Jim Farley, said something both sinister and obvious during a panel discussion about data privacy today at CES, the big electronics trade show in Las Vegas................................... Because of the GPS units installed in Ford vehicles, Ford knows when its drivers are speeding, and where they are while they’re doing it................................ Farley was trying to describe how much data Ford has on its customers, and illustrate the fact that the company uses very little of it in order to avoid raising privacy concerns: “We know everyone who breaks the law, we know when you’re doing it. We have GPS in your car, so we know what you’re doing. By the way, we don’t supply that data to anyone,” he told attendees.

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