Q: I have out-of-town company coming into Sacramento during this construction. How do I advise them to drive from Sacramento International Airport to Placerville? - Jeannette Salmen, Placerville
A: We’re getting a lot of questions about how to get to and from the airport during the Fix50 closures. Keep in mind, at least some lanes in both directions of the W-X section of Highway 50 downtown will be open at all times during the two-month construction period. So, for driving to and from the airport, you can always give Highway 50 a try -- if you dare.
The worst weeks to use Highway 50 headed from the airport toward Placerville (or Rancho Cordova, Folsom, or Highway 99 toward Elk Grove) will be April 22 to May 21. That is when three of the eastbound lanes will be closed.
The worst weeks to use Highway 50 headed to the airport will be May 27 through June 25. That’s when three westbound lanes will be closed.
Caltrans is not offering any detours, nor is it offering advice. But the agency does have some basic facts and maps that are worth viewing on its www.fix50.com website.
In the case of Jeannette’s visitors, let’s say they are arriving during a week when three eastbound lanes are closed. If they are arriving late at night, they could pull out their smart phones, go to the www.sacbee.com/transportation page, and check the live traffic map. If it shows Highway 50 is colored green (for smoothly flowing traffic) or yellow (for slow-moving traffic), they could give Highway 50 a try, figuring it could be slow-going but tolerable (If the Bee traffic map shows the freeway is marked red, don’t go there!).
But if they arrive during the day, especially during commute hours, Jeannette might want to get on Google maps or Mapquest and plot an alternative route for them. They could try heading south on I-5 into downtown, then cutting through city streets to get to the Capital City Freeway, and then take that south to the transition ramp to Highway 50. Or, they can try to get on Highway 50 using the ramp off of X Street at 27th Street. In both cases, they will be accessing Highway 50 just east of the closure area. But both routes likely will throw them into the mix of commuters jamming downtown and midtown streets.
Instead, they could head south on I-5, then merge east onto I-80 in Natomas. From there, they could exit at Watt Avenue and head south about four miles over the American River where they can hook up onto Highway 50 eastbound.
If we think of or hear about better ideas for getting to and from the airport in the coming days, we’ll share them, either in this question forum, or in a story in the Bee.