The traffic snarls expected as Caltrans closed off several lanes on Interstate 80 through north Sacramento didn’t materialize Saturday or Sunday morning, but we’re not out of the woods yet, officials said.
Traffic volumes tend to get higher on westbound I-80 Sunday afternoon as people head back home after weekends in Tahoe or Reno, Caltrans spokeswoman Deanna Shoopman said. At about 3:30 Sunday afternoon, Shoopman said there’s a little bit of a backup on every highway in the area as people seek alternate routes.
“We prepared for the worst,” Shoopman said. “As long as everyone is prepared and everyone knows and they make their plan ahead of time,” there shouldn’t be any problems.
Caltrans closed two of the three westbound freeway lanes as well as the westbound ramps onto I-80 from Interstate 5 in Natomas from Friday at 6 p.m. until 5 a.m. Monday morning as part of its “Across the Top” freeway rebuilding project. Crews will remove and replace 1,300 feet of the two lanes by the end of the weekend.
Caltrans said this is the final lane closure for the $133-million project. Officials held a press conference Wednesday to get the news out and followed up with a social media push.
Shoopman said since the lanes were closed on Friday, there’s been a maximum delay of up to nine minutes, but she anticipates jams of at least a half hour in some areas Sunday afternoon. About 3,500 cars per hour use west-bound I-80 on an average Sunday afternoon.
She said the project is on track to be completed by the time commuters head out at 5 a.m. Monday. She thanked the motorists who took alternate, time-consuming routes to avoid the interstate this weekend.
California Highway Patrol spokesman Chad Hertzell said the agency has 36 units on the road at any given time over the weekend. There have been some minor crashes, he said, but nothing out of the ordinary for a weekend. The biggest problem has been out-of-towners who weren’t aware of the project, he said.