Rainy weather has made driving conditions hazardous around the Bay Area. CalTrans is working round-the-clock to prevent that worst case scenario. Stephanie Chuang reports.
A man crossing an on-ramp to I-80 East in El Cerrito never saw it coming when a silver Mercedes-Benz sedan slammed into him around 6:40 p.m. on Thursday.
California Highway Patrol officer Bradley Jeffers said the man was lucky to walk away with just a complaint of pain in his leg and a headache. Jeffers said during the dark and wet conditions, it could be far worse.
“You crash, you get hurt. Worst case scenario, somebody dies," Jeffers said. "It’s a loved one, it’s an innocent person, it’s a child.”
CalTrans is working round-the-clock to prevent that worst case scenario. At its traffic management center in Oakland, employees watch 35 screens featuring live views of Bay Area freeways fed in by around 300 cameras.
Spokesman Bob Haus said the goal is to expedite response times to accidents and emergencies. The interactive map on nine of the center’s screens show different-colored dots: green is good traffic, yellow is slow, but red means trouble.
“So if we see a lot of red dots, then we know we can zoom in, find the nearest traffic camera," Haus said. "Possibly find out what the problem is right away.”
Haus said the most troubled spots are where you would expect: close to the water. Some that top the list include 280 and Alemany Boulevard in San Francisco, 101 and Lucky Drive in Corte Madera, and the Gilman to University stretch on 80 in Berkeley – a straightaway.
“They tend to drive faster and with the wet roads, it does puddle up around Gilman. We do get a lot of crashes down in that area,” Jeffers said.
CalTrans is warning about wind, as well, warning drivers who’ll be traveling the bridges, in particular the Golden Gate and Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. For the latest updates on traffic conditions on the road, you can check 511 and 511.org. In the meantime, Jeffers, who has witnessed countless tragic accidents on the road in these wet weather conditions, added this time of year may make things even tougher on the road.
“It’s the holiday season, people are in a rush. Just enjoy the time with your family and your friend. Slow down.”