The second of four planned Highway 50 lane closures got underway in earnest Friday as crews set rebar and hammered away at retaining walls in hopes of beating a 15-day deadline for finishing work on the freeway’s eastbound flank.
“They’re getting busy, making a lot of noise,” Caltrans spokesman Dennis Keaton said Friday afternoon.
He said Caltrans officials are pleased with speedy progress so far on the freeway refurbishing project and with the lack of traffic jams in the Fix50 area.
Crews reopened three newly paved lanes on Highway 50 downtown early Friday, five days ahead of schedule, and closed the two outer eastbound lanes without any major problems.
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The switch-over was finished just in time for the Friday morning commute. Traffic through the cone zone downtown was smooth throughout the morning with only minor slowdowns and five-minute delays.
There had been some initial early-morning congestion while some construction equipment was being moved off the freeway, but that cleared quickly before the main commute hours.
“Things went great last night; the transition went very smooth,” Caltrans spokeswoman Deanna Shoopman said.
California Highway Patrol Officer Rich Wetzel said Caltrans’ decision to start Phase 2 lane closures and work on eastbound Highway 50 on Friday was a good one.
“Good call by Caltrans. Since the a.m. Friday commute tends to be light, the switch-over to Phase 2 went well this morning,” Wetzel said in an email. “I looked at the downtown cameras and noted NO backups along (southbound or northbound) Interstate 5 to eastbound 50, or on eastbound 50 through Fix50 itself.”
The latest phase of the two-month project involves closure of the two outside lanes of eastbound Highway 50 through downtown, as well as the 11th and 16th streets onramps, and the connector ramps from 50 to Highway 99 and Business 80.
On Friday, the connector ramp closures appeared to cause some backups on the 34th Street exit from eastbound 50.
“It’s the first exit after the construction closures,” Sacramento police spokesman Doug Morse said. “We saw (backups) on the ramp, but it didn’t cause any congestion” on streets leading from the ramp.
Caltrans has set up a detour for drivers who want to get from eastbound 50 to Highway 99. It involves continuing east to the Howe/Power Inn exit, and looping onto Hornet Drive. From there, drivers can head back west on the freeway and take the open connector ramps on that side of the interchange with 99 and Business 80.
Traffic at Hornet Drive was light during commute hours.
Construction crews are also already closing up to two lanes per night on the westbound side of the freeway, between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. for prep work. Full day-and-night closures on the westbound side are set to start May 27 and run through June 25.