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I-80 expansion lanes open

By: ToLewis, The Press Tribune
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The third and final phase of the Interstate 80 expansion project is nearly complete, which should end the infamous Roseville bottleneck for good, officials say. All lanes opened up in both the eastbound and westbound directions today, according to Celia McAdam, spokeswoman for the Placer County Transportation Planning Agency. Heading east, motorists will see a carpool lane extending about one mile east of Highway 65, four mixed-flow lanes and additional auxiliary lanes at Riverside Avenue, Douglas Boulevard, Eureka Road, Taylor Road and the Highway 65 off ramp. The westbound lanes now feature a carpool lane beginning just before Highway 65, three mixed flow lanes and auxiliary lanes at Atlantic Street and Douglas Boulevard. An auxiliary lane is used for motorists to merge when entering and exiting the freeway. The $89 million, nine-year expansion project is expected to be wrapped up in the next few weeks as crews put the finishing touches on signage and retaining walls, McAdam said. “The final work should be done by Thanksgiving,” she said. Cherri Hernandez commutes from Lincoln to Sacramento and said the addition of the new lanes has cut her commute time nearly in half. She said she usually gets on Highway 65 at Stanford Ranch after dropping her son off at day care in Rocklin around 8 a.m. “I never thought it was a bad commute, coming from Southern California,” Hernandez said. “But certainly I’ve noticed a difference in being able to breeze right through.” Engineer Leo Rubio does the reverse commute, from Sacramento to Roseville, and travels the roadways often throughout his workday visiting clients and overseeing projects in Lincoln, Rocklin and other surrounding areas. He said he’s noticed a big improvement with less interaction and conflicts between drivers merging and getting off at Douglas Boulevard and those passing through the area. “My commute is much easier because I don’t see the congestion at those exits that I used to,” Rubio said. McAdam said that the project has been in the works for more than a decade, but construction on phase two actually began in 2008 with phase three starting in 2009. Funding for the project came from a combination of state Proposition 1B bonds, which voters passed in 2006, a federal earmark and Cal Trans discretionary funds, McAdam said. The Roseville bottleneck became an issue with motorists about 10 years ago when freeway lanes in Sacramento County were expanded, but those in Placer County were not, McAdam said. McAdam said Cal Trans estimates that the area in question will likely go from 463,000 hours of delay annually, that is, speeds below 35 miles per hour, to zero hours of delay. “I travel through the bottleneck a lot and I’ve already seen it,” McAdam said. The transportation agency expects average speeds in the bottleneck area to increase from 35 to 52 miles per hour with an estimated savings of 880,000 gallons of gas each year, according to a statement. Through the bidding process and hands-on management, the project was completed at 58 percent below the original $210 million estimate and the money saved has been reinvested to start work on additional improvements along the I-80 corridor, according to the PCTPA. Toby Lewis can be reached at tobyl@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TobyLewis_RsvPT.