Local transit agencies Wednesday began public outreach for the Highway 101/State Route 92 Short Term Area Improvement Project, which will provide ramp and merger improvements to four highway areas in San Mateo and Foster City.
The project would provide immediate low-cost construction options to improve local ramp access from Highway 101, reduce weaving cars and improve overall safety. The May 5 public meeting allowed residents to ask questions and learn the details about improvements and next steps.
Four improvement areas are being considered for construction fixes. Area improvement one focuses on the westbound State Route 92 to southbound Highway 101 loop connector and would widen the loop connector ramp and add a lane to increase capacity. Improvement two is for eastbound State Route 92, which seeks to improve heavy traffic and increase merging time. It would eliminate the inside merge between eastbound State Route 92 and southbound Highway 101 and shift the existing merge points, although it would not add a lane. Improvement three is to the southbound Highway 101 to westbound State Route 92 ramp. It would realign the Fashion Island Boulevard off-ramp and segregate the eastbound and westbound State Route 92 ramps to prevent illegal motorist crossings. Improvement four addresses the northbound Highway 101 to Hillsdale Boulevard exit ramp. It would widen and restripe the northbound Highway 101 off-ramp, extend the eastbound through lanes through the northbound Highway 101 and Hillsdale Boulevard intersection and realign the northbound Highway 101 loop on-ramp.
Meeting representatives included the San Mateo County Transportation Authority and the City/County Association of Governments, or C/CAG. Both are the project sponsors and will provide the funding. The California Department of Transportation, or Caltrans, is the implementation agency responsible for project approval and preparing environmental documents. San Mateo and Foster City are local partners and the areas where the project is taking place. Caltrans said the project is not part of longer term planning to add a direct connector at the Highway 101 and State Route 92 interchange area from westbound State Route 92 to the northbound and southbound Highway 101 express lanes under construction.
Caltrans staff said the transit agencies are aiming for September project approval. Construction is estimated to start in April 2023, with completion to be determined. The project total is estimated to be $28.6 million, Caltrans said. When asked what would happen if funding wasn't available for all four improvement areas, Caltrans staff said each part could be constructed individually and would be dependent on funding available. Caltrans said what part comes first will likely depend on what can help most with traffic flow and safety. It doesn’t have funding sources available yet, but its goal is to get all four parts funded.
Patrick Gaffney, the chief business official for the San Mateo-Foster City Elementary School District, inquired about traffic noise abatement possibilities for students and faculty at Fiesta Gardens International Elementary School at Bermuda Drive, close to one of the project sites.
Resident Thomas Morgan commented that the biggest problem in driving in the areas was last-second merges and asked if there were design improvements that could discourage the behavior safely.
Resident Lisa Vande Voorde said the merge at northbound Highway 101 to westbound and eastbound State Route 92 had always been scary. She encouraged Caltrans to fix what she saw as the worst of all the scenarios.
San Mateo city staff at the meeting promised to put the presentation slides about the project on the city’s website within the Department of Public Works section after multiple requests from the public.
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