New express lanes to alleviate I-680 traffic in Alameda County

Help is on the way for a notoriously slow Bay Area commute.

Alameda County Transportation officials Thursday held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new Interstate 680 Sunol Express Lanes in Fremont.

"This is really exciting because this corridor is really the 3rd worst congested corridor in the Bay Area," said Alameda Co. Supervisor Scott Haggerty.

It's a commute drivers call horrible and hellish.

Vet Tech Shaun Gill commutes over the Sunol Grade five days a week. He lives in the Sacramento area and works in Fremont.

"It's just totally brutal," said Gill. "I just try to get out of here before 2 or 3pm or you're just stuck.”

Solo drivers will eventually be able to pay a toll to use the new lane along a 9-mile stretch from Auto Mall Parkway to Highway 84. It's also expected to help with drivers using apps to navigate back roads to avoid the freeway traffic.

"They're driving on the local roads as if they were on the highway still," said Fremont Mayor Lily Mei.
Retiree Marie Smith has lived in her home for 40 years. The 80-year-old said last year was the worst for cut-through commuters in her Mission neighborhood.

"There's been gridlock on 2 or 3 different occasions. We can't even move. Cars are going nowhere," said Smith.

More toll lanes are coming to the Bay Area, which currently has 75 miles of toll lanes in Contra Costa, Santa Clara and Alameda Counties. That also includes the existing Southbound toll lanes on 680 in Fremont.

In February, those averaged 3,800 trips a day, with an average toll of $3.13 and the maximum toll was $9.

"I'll probably just continue my own route which would be to go the sideways," said commuter Duaa Gettani. 

Construction on the Interstate 680 Sunol Express Lanes actually started in March. The entire project will cost $107 million and is set to be finished by late 2020.