Back-Seat Driver

Back-seat Driver: Here’s your Sacramento freeway hotspot list for the week

Tony Bizjak
Tony Bizjak

It’s nearly summer, but that doesn’t mean the driving is easy around Sacramento.

• Fix50 enters a new phase Friday morning. Caltrans warns that this fourth and final set of lane closures may be the most disruptive. Crews will be closing a new set of lanes early Friday morning, and may not be finished with temporary striping until sometime during the actual commute hours. The work will last for about 15 days.

Drivers will be able to get through downtown westbound on 50 in the left-hand lanes. The ramp from westbound Business 80 to westbound 50 will be closed, as will the 16th Street exit. The connector ramp from Highway 99 to westbound 50 will be squeezed to one lane.

• Caltrans has angered some drivers by turning the ramp metering lights on earlier and leaving them on later on some ramps during Fix50. Metering lights now run from 5 to 10 a.m. (instead of 6 to 9) on westbound Highway 50 ramps and northbound 99. Afternoon hours are extended as well. Officials say it’s helping. They’ll keep it up until Fix50 is done.

• There’s trouble this weekend just around the corner from Fix50. Crews Friday night will close two of four lanes on northbound Interstate 5 downtown until Monday morning for road surface repair work. You’ll be able to get through, but the closure just north of the sunken section creates a pinch point, potentially a concern for those en route to the airport.

• Back upstream on Highway 50, Watt Avenue ramps were scheduled to be closed intermittently Thursday night and again Friday night to be widened as part of the ongoing project there.

That project continues to be tough on both commuters and its project managers. The county is rebuilding the interchange while trying to keep daily traffic flowing. It’s been harder than similar redos on other Highway 50 interchanges because of high traffic volumes on Watt. A new temporary lane closure has pushed afternoon backups to Kiefer Boulevard. County engineer John Jaeger says to expect some dramatic changes – for the better – in the next few months as crews aim for an August finish date.

• One bit of crowding of the positive kind has been happening on Regional Transit light-rail trains the last few weeks. RT officials report ridership jumped 6 percent when Caltrans closed westbound lanes a few weeks ago as part of its Fix50 project. The agency added extra train cars. Some peak-hour trains are standing-room only.

Road rage did a check to see what type of driving riles motorists the most. No surprise, texting and cellphone talking won. Tailgating is the second-most obnoxious act on the road. Notably, more people are offended by drivers going less than the speed limit than by speeders.

For what it is worth, most drivers feel that age 16 is too young to drive. And 14 percent of drivers say their best car companion is ... their dog.

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