The first week of the Fix50 project is over, and many commuters are breathing a sigh of relief. After a massive morning backup on Highway 50 in West Sacramento on Day One last week, all has calmed. Traffic on other freeways was often light as well. Officials say thousands of commuters responded to warnings by changing routes, commute times and travel modes.
But that doesn’t mean the coming weeks will be easy. Caltrans’ rehabilitation project on the W-X portion of Highway 50 downtown has seven weeks to go, and some significant shifts ahead. Every two weeks, crews will toss a new set of closures at drivers – different lanes, ramps and directions. Each new configuration will have its own personality and challenges, and will affect different communities and different groups of commuters. State officials urge drivers not to be complacent: They know it can get messy out there fast.
In this special pullout section, the Sacramento Bee transportation team has compiled what we hope is a useful reference guide for the coming weeks. The Bee will continue to offer detailed daily coverage of the closures, their impacts and commuter tips both in the newspaper and at our dedicated Fix50 page online: sacbee.com/fix50.
Get on a bike
May is bike month. Already last week, hundreds of commuters showed up on bikes on sometimes crowded city streets. It makes the “share the road” rule that much more important.
The next set of closures, scheduled for May 7 to May 21, will involve continued closure of some eastbound highway lanes (this time, the two outside lanes). But officials will throw added obstacles at drivers: the 16th Street onramp will be closed, and so will the connector ramps to southbound 99 and eastbound Capital City Freeway.
Caltrans is suggesting a tricky detour option for eastbound 50 drivers when the eastbound connector ramps to Highway 99 and the Capital City Freeway are closed. It involves continuing east, exiting at Howe Avenue and using Hornet Drive as a U-turn site. Drivers then can head back toward downtown on westbound 50 and use the open connector ramps on that side of the interchange to get to 99 and the Capital City Freeway.
Jump on a train
Sacramento Regional Transit officials say they expect larger crowds on commuter trains from Folsom and Meadowview when the next three sets of closures occur. RT has a guide for newcomers at its website, at www.sacrt.com.
So far, drivers have had little problem getting through the closure zone on their way to Sacramento International Airport. That could change for the worse when some westbound lanes close May 27 to June 25.
All clear for holiday
Caltrans plans to button up the entire project – and reopen all freeway lanes – for five days around the Memorial Day weekend. Those dates are May 22 to May 26.