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Caltrans plans rehabilitation of Interstate 80

DARIN OLDE, Sierra Sun

Caltrans and the Federal Highway Administration are planning to rehabilitate Interstate 80 from Truckee to Soda Springs, a project that will affect environmentally sensitive wetlands.

Caltrans plans to place 12 inches of concrete over the existing roadway, essentially putting down a new road bed.

“We wouldn’t normally use concrete but it is used in special conditions,” said Caltrans Project Manager Karl L. Dreher. “We need a long-lasting pavement surface.”

No date has yet been set for the project to begin.

The large-scale construction project will affect several drainage and riparian areas along the freeways classified as wetlands by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“Wetlands” is an environmental classification that describes the myriad life forms living in and around waterways; the areas are considered highly sensitive.

Along the 13-mile stretch proposed in the construction project, 1.63 acres are classified as wetlands, and will require mitigation.

“Impacts on 1.23 acres are permanent impacts, and the remaining .40 acres are temporary,” said Jean L. Baker, Office Chief from the Caltrans Office of Environmental Management. “We are required to replace, restore, and recreate both temporary and permanent wetlands on nearby areas. We try and find places that are higher quality. We work with Lahontan on areas (of wetland) that are already in place,” she said.

The Lahontan and Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control boards are required to approve the project as well as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before the California Environmental Quality Act process can move forward and the permits can be obtained.

“The last time this stretch of I-80 was paved occurred in the late ’50s and early ’60s,” Dreher said. “It has done a wonderful job, but it is old and tired.”

New pavement may last as long as 40 years. A lot of it depends on volume, chain wear and conditions, Dreher added.

The environmental document that explains how the wetlands will be affected and how Caltrans is planning to mitigate the effects is the initial study, which is available at the Truckee Library.

To inquire about the project or make a comment contact Caltrans by Jan. 15 either through the Office of Environmental Management at P.O. Box 911, Marysville, CA. 95901 or call project manager Karl L. Dreher at (916) 274-5973 or Office Chief Jean L. Baker at (530) 741-4498.


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