Back-Seat Driver

Expect more jams on I-80 next weekend

Aerial photos of I-80 construction looking west with the I-5 interchange at the top in the Natomas area of Sacramento on Wednesday, August 20, 2014.
Aerial photos of I-80 construction looking west with the I-5 interchange at the top in the Natomas area of Sacramento on Wednesday, August 20, 2014.

Drivers on Interstate 80 in North Sacramento by now have gotten used to the inconveniences caused by Caltrans’ ongoing Across The Top construction project on Interstate 80. Bad news: It’s about to get worse next weekend.

Caltrans plans to close more lanes and ramps next Friday in the eastbound direction to pour new concrete slabs at the east end of the project through that weekend. The express lanes will be narrowed to one lane in the Winters Street area, and several ramps will close. Cars will be able to get through, but expect traffic backups. The lanes will reopen early that Monday.

The Across The Top project is like a slow-motion magic act: It involves ripping out and replacing the entire freeway for 10 miles, but doing it in increments over several years to keep the road partially open and usable. The work on the eastbound side likely will be done early this summer. But that just means Caltrans will then start tearing up the westbound side.

Train tracking

One of the recent criticisms of Sacramento Regional Transit is that it doesn’t do a good job of communicating with riders, especially when something goes wrong on light rail. In an attempt to address that problem, RT is testing a tracking system on trains that will allow the agency to alert passengers at station platforms how many minutes it’ll be before the next train arrives.

Platform signboards are up and running but currently only offer canned messages, including notices of minor or major delays. RT also is starting to allow dispatchers to type out more specific messages about issues at individual stations.

The real-time messages and train times are a small change that will make a big difference. Other cities with light rail do it. It really eases anxiety on the wait platforms.

Beware, Bay Area drivers

The people who run the Waze real-time smartphone traffic app recently analyzed the data they’ve been getting from Bay Area residents headed to Tahoe to ski or gamble, and what did they see? That Sacramento place has congestion!

The Wazers were looking to see what’s the best time to take off from the Bay Area to get to Tahoe. To no one’s surprise, they found 5 p.m. is a bad time to come through, but also found that congestion is bad here Saturday around 5 p.m. as well.

The congestion doesn’t start in downtown, though. Waze users start hitting their alert buttons around Davis. That’s where the freeway eastbound goes from four lanes to three, essentially funneling drivers from the Bay Area, the Napa area and Yolo County into a clog that doesn’t let up until drivers spill off the Yolo Causeway.

By the way, Bay Area drivers, have we told you about this thing called the Across The Top project?

Call The Bee’s Tony Bizjak, (916) 321-1059.

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