I-80 project nears finish

By: ToLewis, Gold Country News Service
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By Toby Lewis gold country news service For the first time in more than a decade, commuters and motorists may soon think about the famous Roseville bottleneck as a thing of the past. The second phase of the $48 million Interstate 80 expansion project was completed and opened to traffic Friday morning. The third and final phase of the project will extend new freeway lanes from Miners Ravine to about one mile east of Highway 65, according to Celia McAdam with the Placer County Transportation Planning Agency. McAdam said the third phase is expected to be completed in early of October. “It depends on weather and things that you can’t control, but we are closing in on the date,” she said. The completion of the second phase means a total of six eastbound traffic lanes, one being a carpool lane and another an auxiliary lane, are open between the Placer County line and Miners Ravine around Eureka Road. Heading westbound, three traffic lanes and one carpool lane are now open on that same 2.8-mile stretch of roadway. The completion of the third phase will extend those lanes in both directions from Miners Ravine to about one mile east of Highway 65, McAdam said. Weather has been a cooperating factor in speeding the project along, according to Dennis Keaton, spokesman for Caltrans. “If you’ve noticed, it’s been staying dark later and it’s also been getting cooler,” Keaton said. “A lot of the construction projects for the area started at the beginning of the summer.” Keaton said the project, which has been in the works since 2002, was given a completion date for the fall of 2011, and Caltrans is working with the Placer County Transportation Planning Agency to complete the project on schedule. “They’ve really made up time from some of the delays they had with the weather this spring,” McAdam said. Approximately165,000 motorists pass through the bottleneck area each day. The Roseville bottleneck became an issue with motorists about 10 years ago when freeway lanes in Sacramento County were expanded, but those in Placer County were not, McAdam said. As a result, traffic was squeezed into fewer lanes on Interstate 80 between Douglas Boulevard and Riverside Avenue before hitting the Sacramento County line. Most of the money for the project, $31.5 million to be exact, came from Proposition 1B, the Bond Act for Highway Safety, Traffic Reduction, Air Quality and Port Security, which California voters passed in 2006, Keaton said. The rest of the funding for the project came from Placer County, the city of Roseville and the Placer County Transportation Planning Agency.