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Gold Run rest stop reopens

Nesting blackbird forced delay to I-80 site construction completion
By: Gus Thomson,Journal Staff Writer
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To the relief of many motorists, Interstate 80’s popular Gold Run rest stop is opening again after being closed for more than a year for renovations. And part of the blame for the long wait goes to a nesting migratory bird. Caltrans contractors started the $3.4 million project in spring 2008. Plans were to replace both west and eastbound rest stop buildings by the July 4 weekend. But a Brown’s blackbird made a home at one of the newly constructed information kiosks during the spring and construction was halted to allow nesting to take place. Rochelle Jenkins, Caltrans spokeswoman, said the westbound stop opened last weekend while the eastbound stop will be accessible again after a grand-opening ceremony on Wednesday. Jenkins said the project on the eastbound stop was delayed by the bird nest but the down time in construction to avoid noise from machinery disturbing the birds didn’t result in any increased costs. “We want to try to be as sensitive as we can be,” Jenkins said. Rest stops are an integral part of the interstate freeway system, providing a free place to park, go to the toilet, rest, stretch, and then get back on the road refreshed. The California Highway Patrol recommends a rest of about 20 minutes after every two hours of driving. Jenkins said the Gold Run buildings were showing their age after more than 40 years and needed to be updated to be Americans With Disabilities Act-compliant. The buildings were torn down and replaced with log-cabin style structures that better blended into the alpine terrain, she said. “The main focus was to make the stop ADA-compliant but while we were there, make something we can be proud of,” Jenkins said. “This isn’t like the old green rest areas of the 1950s and 1960s.” The buildings should stand the test of time for another 40 or 50 years, she added. Parking for passenger vehicles and big rigs will cover about the same area as before. New to the rest area will be vending machines for both food and drinks run through the state Department of Rehabilitation. Kiosks are also new, providing maps and other information for travelers. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com or comment at Auburnjournal.com.