Caltrans and Fix50 construction crews kept a wary eye toward the skies at day’s end Thursday, hoping that rain predicted for today doesn’t impede work on the round-the-clock highway re-paving project.
Work was back to normal Thursday after an accident the day before when a passing truck hit a plank held by a worker, propelling it into three workers. One of the injured was treated at the site. Two were released from the hospital after brief treatment.
Wooden screens have been erected to further separate the construction zone from traffic, and to cut down on gawkers in cars traveling by the site.
Traffic generally moved smoothly on local freeways during the morning and evening commutes on Day 3 of the two-month project. Localized back-ups, however, continued to occur throughout the day on the freeway approaching the construction site, where three of Highway 50’s lanes are closed.
Officials reported solid progress as crews prepared the freeway deck, now ground down, for a new concrete driving surface that could be poured as soon as Monday.
Fix50 work this week focused on the nitty-gritty. Workers drilled holes into the existing deck. The dowel holes then had to be cleaned out. A total of 38,000 metal dowels will be glued 5 inches deep into the existing deck. They will extend up to secure rebar that will be embedded in the concrete. Large cranes will be on site to lift the heavy metal rebar from parking lots to the bridge freeway.
In the next 24 hours, workers hope to epoxy the dowels in place, and begin tying the rebar to the dowels. Caltrans expects workers from Myers and Sons, a company with a reputation for speedy work, to begin pouring concrete early next week.
But rain could make working conditions unsafe and hamper the drying of the epoxy adhesive.
The National Weather Service was forecasting a 40 percent chance of rain overnight Thursday, with the potential for thunderstorms this morning.
“One of the concerns we are looking at right now is Friday,” said Caltrans spokesman Dennis Keaton. “If it does come down really hard, there could be some delays in the dowel work because you can’t really seal the adhesive with a heavy downpour.”
Otherwise, Caltrans officials were happy about the way things went during commute periods the last few days, after a major freeway backup Tuesday that stretched 2 miles through West Sacramento. Caltrans noted that traffic was lighter on Wednesday and Thursday than on Tuesday, which was the first day of construction.
“Looks like everything has stabilized after the two first days,” said Keaton. “People are starting to get their bearings with all the other options” to get around the partial construction zone closure in the eastbound lanes of Highway 50.
Keaton said media helicopters were less visible on Thursday near the Fix50 site. However, some complaints of chopper noise from Land Park, a mile away from the construction zone, were voiced on Thursday as news crews shot from further away, he said.
“You look up and there is not as much flight traffic,” said Keaton, speaking from the Fix50 construction area. “It is like night and day.”
Although traffic has been close to normal in recent days, West Sacramento officials are encouraging Sacramento River Cats fans heading to Raley Field for the team’s weeklong home stand to use I-80 as their freeway route, and take the Reed Avenue exit.
Call The Bee’s Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079. The Bee’s Tony Bizjak contributed to this report.