I-80 nightly truck, bus escort begins

Roadway rehabilitation prompts guided detours from Colfax
By: Jim Ruffalo Journal Correspondent
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Less than a week into its rehabilitation of Interstate 80, Caltrans is now escorting trucks through a detour after a semi tipped over on the route. The Get Across 80 campaign, which promotes detours available as Caltrans launches a multi-year program to repair a large stretch of Interstate 80 from Colfax to the Nevada state line, began with trucks and buses shunted to Highway 49 from the Interstate to Highway 20 overnight. Most of the westbound large vehicles were encouraged to use Bell Road to get back on the highway. Caltrans said the changes were prompted by an incident on Monday, April 6, when a large semi-truck tipped over and wound up in a nearby ravine along Highway 20 at Bear Valley. Placer County Transportation Planning Agency officials were briefed earlier in the week on the upcoming changes “CHP’s initial investigation said the truck was probably going too fast for the road, so we decided to find a safer way of doing things,” said Celia McAdam, executive director of the transportation agency, during Thursday night’s open-house informative session at Auburn’s Conheim Station. So now the California Highway Patrol and Caltrans will “collect” groups of trucks and, using a pilot car, will escort them through the lengthy detour. “It will add some time to the route, and some truckers might stay at Reno waiting for the time limit to expire, but we feel we’ll have a safer roadway,” said Rochelle Jenkins, a Caltrans public information officer. Jenkins said the noise of air brakes being applied because of the detours was also a consideration for going to the new plan. Although an informational meeting Thursday was sparsely attended, Jenkins said the word has been going out to truckers all week, including e-mailings to their associations and truck stops. Among those in that small crowd was Placer County’s Third District Supervisor Jim Holmes, who used the time to buttonhole Caltrans representatives to voice concern over what the detour’s wear-and-tear could do to Bell Road, a county street. “We’ve received assurances that the county will be made whole after the project is completed,” Holmes said. Caltrans is using a $70 million grant to provide needed roadwork on the winter-ravaged section of I-80. That project involves overlays, replacing slotted drains and battered median barriers, as well as guardrails and curbs, and will widen shoulder areas for better traffic staging, especially in inclement weather. Caltrans said the work will be done in stages, with the stretch of Colfax to Secret Town Road being the initial project. Almost all of the work will be done at night, meaning the bulk of the detoured traffic will take place from 7 at night to 7 the following morning. That time period will change slightly after Memorial Day when a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. window will be used.