Bee transportation reporter Tony Bizjak is answering reader questions during Caltrans’ Fix 50 project. Submit your question at www.sacbee.com/transportation.
No. In fact, that’s turned out to be a pretty important, and at times congested, exit the last few days. With the eastbound ramps to Highway 99 and Business 80 closed, some drivers are taking the next exit ramp down the line – 34th Street – and using it to head north or south on city streets to get to 80 or 99.
Other drivers were doing something worse Monday morning. They were taking the 59th Street exit, then making illegal U-turns from the off-ramp directly onto the on-ramp westbound. The CHP was alerted and sent an officer out there to stop cars from making that maneuver.
I read that somewhere, too. But it’s not true. Caltrans says carpool lanes are functioning as normal, with no special rules. So far, commute traffic has been relatively light. Caltrans officials say the whole idea of carpool lanes is to encourage commuters to reduce congestion by doubling up.
You probably will be fine, because the full-time work on the westbound lanes doesn’t start until May 27. However, we should offer two small warnings. Caltrans has been conducting some temporary lane closures some nights on the westbound side of Highway 50 downtown to get a head start on work for the full 24/7 closures on May 27.
Closures have started as early as 8 p.m. Caltrans has kept a couple lanes closed until 5 a.m. Caltrans also soon will do some night lane closures for work on Interstate 5 downtown. Caltrans officials haven’t disclosed yet when they plan to start those, but they said they plan to reopen all lanes on I-5 each morning in time for the commute.
Your point is a good one about trying to get as much work done as possible during major lane closures. Caltrans local head Jody Jones checked with her road engineers and they report, however, that those connector ramps are in good condition and don’t need repaving. They also said the portion of the W-X freeway just west of the Fix50 rehab area is in good condition.