Tony Bizjak

Back-seat Driver: Sacramento freeway zooms up most-congested list

Published: Friday, Apr. 26, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013 - 7:56 am

Which Sacramento freeway section has the worst congestion? It appears we have a new champion.

It's the Capital City Freeway where it runs over the American River and past Arden Fair mall. It has just overtaken Highway 99 in south Sacramento as the slowest freeway in the region.

Actually, "overtaken" is the wrong word. An analysis by INRIX, a company that monitors freeway times, shows that traffic on that stretch isn't overtaking anything. It averages 29 mph, by far the slowest in the region and apparently only getting worse. It rose on the national congested corridors list from 156th worst to 114th last year, and is now worse than several bad Los Angeles freeway sections.

Conversely, long-congested Highway 99 between Mack Road and 12th Avenue improved from 116th to 162nd on the national list, thanks to some new short-distance auxiliary lanes. Traffic there averages 35 mph.

The worst freeways in the country were the cross-Bronx Expressway in New York, where traffic chugs along on average at 13 mph, and the 405 freeway in the Los Angeles area's San Fernando Valley, where traffic averages 14 mph.

As for the problem at Sacramento's Capital City Freeway, it's a classic bottleneck over the river. State Transportation Department officials say the bridge isn't wide enough to add lanes.

According to INRIX, Sacramentans waste an hour a month in traffic. Angelenos have it the worst, wasting five hours a month.

NASCAR on rails

California doesn't have bullet trains yet, but for one Sunday this June it will boast a unique train – the NASCAR Express.

Sonoma Raceway is teaming with the Capitol Corridor rail service to take NASCAR Sprint Cup Series fans from Sacramento, Davis and Suisun City directly on rail to the Toyota/Save Mart 350 race.

That means about 500 race fans can avoid the bumper-to-bumper traffic on highways 37 and 12.

Sonoma Raceway President Steve Page said fans have been pointing at the train line across the street for years: Why not use it?

"It's a great way for fans to experience the track and not have to get behind the wheel of a car, dealing with driving and parking," Page said.

The train will be routed along a freight line running through the picturesque Carneros wine region. It has cafe cars serving beer, wine and edibles. "If I didn't have to work that day, I'd drive to Sacramento and take the train just for the experience," Page said.

Capitol Corridor's David Kutrosky said it's a chance to tap into new customers.

He's checked the old rail line out: It's beautiful and safe, he said.

Tickets are on sale for the June 23 event at the raceway's website: racesonoma.com.

Call The Bee's Tony Bizjak, (916) 321-1059. Follow him on Twitter @tonybizjak.

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