After five years of construction, state highway officials opened a new 10-mile segment of Interstate 80 for commuters Friday morning.
Caltrans officials striped a new carpool lane in the westbound direction from the Yolo County line to Watt Avenue on Thursday night and had the stretch of westbound I-80 open for traffic before the sun came up Friday.
“Thank you for your patience,” read a tweet from Caltrans to motorists.
Officials are calling the lane opening a landmark moment in their $136 million "Across The Top" freeway widening and rehabilitation project. The project, in the works since 2011, involves adding new carpool lanes on both sides of the freeway, as well as auxiliary lanes between several on- and offramps. Crews also tore up and replaced four freeway lanes that had been crumbling under truck traffic.
Contract crews will continue working nights during December and are expected to open the new 10-mile carpool lane on the eastbound side sometime later this month.
Highway officials say the project will smooth traffic on one of the region's busiest freeways. I-80 carries tens of thousands of commuters daily to and from downtown, and is a major commercial transport corridor between the West Coast and the rest of the country.
The project originally was scheduled to be finished in late 2014, but a variety of work slowdowns extended the timeline. Commuters complained often about the apparent lack of progress at the site. Much of the work has been done at night, however, to minimize impacts on work-day traffic.
The project suffered a key setback when the main contractor, C.C. Myers Inc. went bankrupt, forcing Caltrans to turn to Myers' partner in the project, Bay Cities Paving, to finish the work.