Truckee’s I-80 work set to smooth out rough road | SierraSun.com

Truckee’s I-80 work set to smooth out rough road

Greyson Howard
Sierra Sun

Seth Lightcap/Sierra SunConstruction on Interstate 80 over Donner Summit will continue throughout the fall. Work will stop for the winter on Oct. 15.

Heavy machinery, traffic delays and closed offramps mean one thing ” for the first time in decades motorists driving up Donner Summit on Interstate 80 will soon have a smooth ride.

Construction workers will batten down their projects on Donner Summit in October, leaving drivers with new pavement to drive on and no construction delays until work starts up again next spring. The work on Donner Summit is just part of $1 billion worth along Interstate 80 from the Bay Area to the Nevada state line.

“This road has been an embarrassment to the state of California,” said Will Kempton, director of Caltrans. “Anybody who drives here knows how bad of shape the road is in.”

However with about $260 million spent so far and $588 million in the pipe for the section of road from Colfax to Nevada state line alone, Kempton said all that is changing.

“This is really important stuff for rural California,” he said.

Kempton traveled the length of Interstate 80 in California Tuesday, delivering updates on roadwork along the way.

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He was joined by Truckee Council Member Carolyn Wallace Dee and Nevada County Transportation Commission Executive Director Dan Landon in the Boreal parking lot for his last stop Tuesday afternoon.

“I-80 is not only an interstate but a life-line, or main street of Nevada County,” Landon said.

Work will continue on the interstate until 2012, Kempton said, so construction delays aren’t over yet.

“It can be difficult to get through from time to time but we ask drivers to be patient because at the other end it will be worth it,” Kempton said.

As for the short term however, drivers will be able to drive on smooth, un-rutted roads this winter climbing from Truckee over Donner Summit, with both bridges and all lanes open at Castle Peak, said Shelly Chernicki, Caltrans spokeswoman.

“Drivers will probably find that they have more room than previously, with wider shoulders,” Chernicki said.

The state budget crunch hasn’t slowed Caltrans down on their Interstate 80 roadwork, said Director Will Kempton.

“We’ve been able to retain most of our employees, but laid off temporary employees like student interns,” Kempton said.

Some projects that haven’t yet been allocated are on hold until the state budget is resolved, Kempton said, but most projects in the mountains have already been allocated.