I-80 detour end is in sight

By: Gus Thomson Journal Staff Writer
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The road to rehab Interstate 80 just east of Colfax is moving into the home stretch – with the end of detours in view. Caltrans is anticipating that road rehabilitation of I-80 between Colfax and the Alta Road undercrossing will be completed by the first one or two weeks of October, said spokeswoman Rochelle Jenkins. “We’re more than halfway,” Jenkins said. Work started in late March. Motorists will notice the difference in ride quality and reduction in travel delays due to repeated lane closures for pavement repairs. The minimum life of the new concrete surface is 20 years. Nighttime detours have rerouted heavy truck traffic onto narrow Highway 20 through Grass Valley. Passenger vehicles detour off the freeway at the Secret Town Road exit and then reenter Interstate 80 at Colfax, along a short stretch of Highway 174. Sarah Murphy, promotions coordinator at Giovanni’s Restaurant in Colfax, said the detour initially put a crimp on business because a Highway Patrol car was parked out front to help direct traffic. “But then the owner spoke to the Highway Patrol and it hasn’t hindered or helped us,” Murphy said. “People will stop in maybe for a bottle of water or to use the bathroom.” In Auburn, it hasn’t been unusual for residents to see tractor-trailer rigs parked at the side of the road overnight as drivers opt to wait until the interstate east of Colfax is reopened for daytime use. At Lou La Bonte’s restaurant, owner Judi La Bonte said Monday that the last couple of weekends have been good for the eatery but it’s hard to say whether it’s the economy or people looking at different means of transportation. The 11-mile stretch past Colfax is part of a $420 million road rehabilitation project started this spring that has been broken up into eight separate projects. For more information on detours, motorists can go to the Web site or get recorded information at 1-877-362-8080. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at