I-80 construction: More work – but perhaps fewer headaches – in store for 2011
TRUCKEE, Calif. – Caltrans’ major renovation of Interstate 80 through the Sierra that has kept traffic guessing the last few years will shift its attention next summer to the eastbound lanes descending Donner Summit.
Stretching from the summit down to where the interstate splits between the Donner Lake Interchange and Donner Pass Road, the work will be more of what’s been seen westbound this year – putting in concrete from shoulder to shoulder, said Dave Catania, an engineer with Caltrans.
To do that, however, Caltrans is proposing pushing all eastbound traffic to the westbound roadway, giving construction workers full access without dealing with drivers, he said.
“It should expedite the work and the savings could be brought back as upgrades,” Catania said at last Thursday’s town council meeting.
The idea is construction workers could move around, unencumbered by the considerations of working near traffic, and traffic will move faster, without the occasional gawker slowing things down, Catania said.
Where as right now construction has led to 20- to 30-minute delays, separating traffic from construction should mean fewer stops, and a tow truck on call will clear accidents or stalled vehicles quickly, he said.
But it will mean closures of eastbound ramps on the summit and at the Donner Lake Interchange.
“We’ll put a changeable message sign up just before the Soda Springs exit and at the bottom of the Donner Lake Interchange,” Catania said.
Working with the town, area fire districts and police, Caltrans has agreed to open those ramps for Fourth of July, a busy weekend for the ramps, and during any emergencies, Catania said.
The work would run from May 1 to Oct. 15 next year, he said, running in 10-, 12- or 24-hour shifts, depending on the operation.