Life in the slow lane

Jul 27, 2015


Life in the fast lane isn't all that fast, at least in the Bay Area, according to highway officials.


From the Chronicle's Michael Cabanatuan: "By any name, the lanes are designed to be fast lanes, giving drivers who haul passengers a quicker trip. Traffic is supposed to move at speeds better than 45 mph at least 90 percent of the time they’re in operation, according to the Federal Highway Administration."


"In the nine-county Bay Area, however, 204 of the 389 miles of carpool lanes  52 percent — flunked that test in the latter half of 2013, according to the most recent carpool lane analysis, released by Caltrans. Statewide, the carpool lane performance was similarly sluggish with 59 percent — or 788 — of the 1,326 miles of lanes failing."


“Carpool lanes are supposed to save you time — and they’re not,” said Randy Rentschler, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Bay Area’s transportation planning and financing agency."

When it comes to border enforcement, one thinks of desert and clogged crossings in towns like Tijuana and Mexicali, but there's a lot going on offshore, too.


From the LAT's Sandra Dibble: "Until now, violators have been issued warnings and told to turn around. But this week, the Mexican government announced its intention to crack down on violators. That could mean boats being towed to Ensenada for an administrative process and immediate deportation of the crew and passengers."


"Although violators won't face charges, "it will be an inconvenience," said María de los Remedios Gómez Arnau, head of the Mexican Consulate in San Diego."


"The warning is being issued through Mexican consulates across California, and as far as western Canada and Arizona, and states that the "Mexican Navy and immigration authorities are strengthening their presence in Mexican waters."


Important things come in small pacakages, and nowhere is that more true than in the case of an insect viewed by experts as a threat to lemons and oranges.


From Alvin Chen in Capitol Weekly: "It’s a barely visible, tiny insect but it could be a huge headache for California’s $2 billion citrus industry."


"The Asian citrus psyllid, only few millimeters long, has turned up in the San Gabriel Valley and authorities are plotting a strategy to contain it."


"The insect is known to be carrier of the deadly disease HLB, or Huanglongbing, also known as citrus greening. The disease kills citrus trees and there is no known cure."


Meanwhile, California's drought is an inconvenience for some, but for others it's a matter of life and death.


From Andrea Castillo in the Fresno Bee: "The numbers alone are exhausting. Juana Garcia has five children, two chronic diseases, one waterless home and zero income."


"She is 49 and living in East Porterville, where she hides indoors from the summer heat by day and lies awake next to her youngest children by night."


"Garcia’s well went dry in 2013, sputtering a mixture of water and sand every now and then for years until it finally gave up. But she still had running water until March. A next-door neighbor allowed her family to hook their system up to his well before cutting them off for fear of running out himself."


Speaking of water, authorities say they are having a tough time keeping salt out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the core of California's water system.


From the Stockton Record's Alex Breitler: "State officials acknowledged this week that they are “struggling” to keep portions of the Delta fresh, as saltier water from San Francisco Bay pushes inland during yet another summer of drought."

"Normally, rivers from interior California help push back that saltier water and keep the Delta fresh, which is important for people and fish alike. But this year the rivers are low, which allows the Bay water to move toward the east and invade portions of the tidally influenced estuary."

"In order to hold back more water in depleted reservoirs, the state Department of Water Resources and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation earlier this year asked regulators to temporarily weaken certain salinity standards in the west Delta, rules that are supposed to protect agriculture. The request was granted."


Finally, from our "Hot Lips" file comes word that kissing is not universally popular -- an amazing fact, considering how much fun it is.


"Researchers William Jankowiak, Shelly Volsche and Justin Garcia discovered that more than half of 168 diverse cultures did not use the romantic-sexual kiss."


“There is a marked absence of kissing in the equatorial and sub-Saharan hunter-gatherer societies such as the Hadza, the Turkana, the Maasai, and the Yanomamo,” Volsche told after the publication of the eye-opening paper."


"In fact, it looks as though kissing only evolves where humans develop a complex society, with time for and interest in erotic play."


What better use for your leisure time?...