Auxiliary lane project on 101 breaks ground 

A project already being heralded for easing rush-hour bumper-to-bumper traffic on U.S. Highway 101 officially broke more ground Tuesday morning.

Dubbed the auxiliary lane project, the combined effort between the San Mateo County Transportation Authority and Caltrans includes adding four and a half miles of auxiliary lanes between the Millbrae Avenue exit in Millbrae and the Third Avenue exit in San Mateo; widening the Peninsula Avenue overcrossing from two to four lanes; and reconfiguring the onramps and offramps to northbound Highway 101.

The Monte Diablo overcrossing will also be rebuilt and a new pedestrian overcrossing will be built just south of the Broadway interchange.

Caltrans officials estimate that six and a half miles of auxiliary lanes have been completed between San Mateo and Menlo Park, with positive results. Caltrans spokesman Jeff Weiss said that while there is no set date yet for completion of this new leg of the project, the other work was completed in about three years.

Elected officials and the San Mateo County Transportation Authority tout the project as being better for the environment, reasoning that it will reduce the usual congestion on the highway.

During commute hours, the auxiliary lanes, equipped with metering lights like those already found on several on-ramps along Highway 101, will allow a steady stream of cars to enter and exit the freeway. The lanes are also expected to help circulation for shorter jaunts between neighboring cities, so cars only traveling for a couple miles on the freeway would not have to merge into traffic already moving at highway speeds.

The $150 million project is funded with $80 million from the county transportation authority and $70 million from Caltrans. Measure A, the county’s half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2004, contributes to the transportation authority’s $80 million share.

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