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  • Fix 50 - teaser

  • Manny Crisostomo / Sacramento Bee

    Crew work on the W-X freeway in Sacramento where, starting Tuesday, ramp and lane closures will delay motorists for all but one week through June 25.

  • Randy Pench /

    A construction worker assembles a scaffolding between the east and westbound lanes of the W-X freeway on Thursday, April 17, 2014 in Sacramento, Calif. where both the outer shoulder and medians will be widened by 2.5 feet along the W-X freeway as part of the Fix50 project which will have lane closures in both directions starting April 22nd.

Fix 50 Q&A: Readers confused about how to avoid Fix50 gridlock

Published: Monday, Apr. 21, 2014 - 12:00 am
Last Modified: Monday, Apr. 21, 2014 - 12:46 pm

With the closure of the W-X portion of Highway 50 starting Tuesday, The Bee has been answering reader questions on Here are a sample. You can submit your questions at

Where can I find a map of the streets that will be involved in this mess? – Sharin Rowert, Sloughhouse

Sorry. There is no official map of which surface streets might be most affected by the freeway lane closures. We’ve talked with city and county officials who have some guesses, but these are only guesses. No one knows how many commuters will try taking surface streets, or which streets they will try.

The Bee has produced a map with this story that gives readers our best predictions.

Remember: There will always be some lanes open on Highway 50 through downtown during construction, but it will be a bottleneck.

When some of the eastbound lanes are closed (the first month of work), West Sacramento officials fear the freeway backup could extend to their side of the Sacramento River, and drivers heading to downtown Sacramento will bail onto city streets and wind their way to the Tower Bridge and I Street bridge.

In Sacramento, there are fears that traffic could be heavy on major northbound streets such as Land Park Drive and Riverside, Freeport and Franklin boulevards, and on streets parallel to the work zone: Broadway, W and X streets.

When some westbound lanes are closed (the second month of work), commuters from El Dorado, Folsom and points east may try coming in on Fair Oaks or Folsom boulevards if traffic gets too backed up on Highway 50. That will have a heavy impact on east Sacramento and midtown neighborhood streets.

Others who usually use Highway 50 but live near 80, say in Arden Arcade, may head north instead to Interstate 80, then drive into downtown that way. City officials say they expect heavier traffic in and out on 12th and 16th streets as more commuters use Highway 160.

How do I get to Raley Field and home after the game on April 26, Kiwanis Night at the River Cats? – Bernie Bowes, Rancho Murieta

There’s good news for you, for the most part, Bernie. You will be heading through on a weekend when three of Highway 50’s eastbound lanes will be closed, but all westbound lanes will be open. Your drive to Raley Field should be pretty normal because you’ll be heading there using the westbound side of the freeway.

The game starts at 7 p.m., so you’ll probably be heading home sometime after 9 p.m. That’s when you’ll be using the eastbound side of the freeway. But traffic should be relatively light by that time, at least compared to weekday commute hours. It’s best to expect some delays, but they shouldn’t be anywhere near commute-time delays.

I’m very confused about whether I am supposed to use an alternate route or not. The website advises “those who commute to the downtown area continue to use the freeway system unless it is necessary to detour to city streets due to ramp or connector closures,” but the media keep saying that there will be hours-long delays if people don’t use alternate routes. Can you clarify who is supposed to use alternate routes? – Sierra Hammock, Sacramento

This is the most confusing thing about this project. No one really knows if they should try an alternate route or not. If Caltrans was shutting the entire freeway, drivers would know they have to find another way to work or school. But Caltrans has made sure to keep some lanes open at all times. That means every driver has to make a decision for him or herself whether or not to stay on Highway 50 downtown, or go another route.

Whatever you do, expect a mess, and expect to be delayed. Also, don’t be afraid if a route that works on Day One is suddenly congested on Day Two. Or, the opposite. Pay attention to TV and online traffic reports – and – before you leave the house the first few mornings, and before you leave work those afternoons. Remember, only one side of the freeway will be worked on at a time. The other side should be pretty much OK.

Call The Bee’s Tony Bizjak, (916) 321-1059.

Read more articles by Tony Bizjak

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