The first Monday commute through an area of lane closures on Interstate 80 in Natomas resulted in slowed traffic in the eastbound direction as motorists learned the best way to get around a freeway paving project.
The closures are part of a $133 million effort to repave all lanes of I-80 along a 10-mile stretch, and to add new carpool lanes and ramp lanes. The project area runs from the Business 80 split to the Yolo County line.
“If you are going toward Placer County, stay to the left,” advised California Highway Patrol officer Rich Wetzel.
The eastbound lanes of the freeway are reduced from three lanes to two on the section of the freeway between the Yolo County line and West El Camino Avenue. Immediately east of there, traffic will be shifted onto three newly constructed lanes between West El Camino and Watt Avenue. Drivers on the two interior lanes eastbound do not have access to offramps during a several-mile stretch.
The speed limit in the area is reduced to 55 mph. Traffic fines are doubled. Wetzel dubbed the two interior lanes “express lanes” for the comparative ease with which traffic flows through the construction zone.
“Once you get into the express lanes it is nice, but getting into the express lanes is a bit of a challenge,” he said. “There are breaks by West El Camino and one by Northgate. Once you get over, the two left lanes are quite an express.
“You are not able to exit from the left lanes. If you stay on the right, you will be able to exit.”
The new configuration in the eastbound lanes will last approximately one year, Caltrans said. When eastbound work is done, Caltrans will do similar work, with closures, on the westbound side. The project, which has been underway for two years, will not be completed until late 2015 or early 2016.