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I-80/SR 65 Interchange project moves ahead

By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
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Some residents are still reeling from the idea the Taylor Road interchange could go away with a new construction project to improve the Interstate 80/State Route 65 interchange. “I’m always concerned about that,” Roseville property owner Candy Stephenson said. Stephenson owns the old stone house, an office building and acreage off Taylor Road on the edge of the 80/65 interchange.  “Nobody wanted the Taylor Road on- and off-road closed,” Stephenson said. “I’ve got a business there and you start closing ramps and start making people go out of the their way to get to your business — it’s bad for business.” Stephenson went to the first of four public meetings on the I-80/SR 65 interchange improvement project, this time held April 14 in Rocklin. Celia McAdam, the executive director of the Placer County Transportation Planning Agency, tried to put to rest some concerns about the idea of the exit closure. “It is on the table as a possibility along with all kinds of other possibilities, but it’s only going to happen if everyone wants it to happen,” McAdam said. “I’m hearing a lot of feedback that the public does not want this to happen.” The idea popped up in the 2009 Project Study Report written by Caltrans that focused on traffic flow and concluded the exit was too close to the interchange and was impacting merging. Since then Roseville, Rocklin area businesses and chamber of commerce groups have expressed objections to the transportation agency. Also in attendance was Veterinarian Tamsen Taylor, who operates Sunset Whitney Vet Hospital on Pacific Street in Rocklin, who said she was concerned about the closure, too. “I have some clients that come from that direction,” Taylor said. Taylor admits she is a little skeptical after attending the workshop. “They did not say it was not going to happen either. There are some alternatives and it’s a plan,” Taylor said. “Maybe I’ll be retired before they get this done.” The $280 million project could take seven years to complete, according to McAdam. The project proposes improvements to the interchange to reduce traffic congestion, improve traffic operations, and enhance safety. All of the design alternatives are still on the table as the transportation agency looks for public input. “We can design the most fabulous thing in the world, but if it is not what the public wants then we are wasting time,” McAdam said. “That’s what these meetings are about.” Beyond the controversial closure idea, a replacement of the exit ramp’s location is also being considered. “There are some that make the access to Taylor Road entirely different — but enhances it — by making an under-crossing of the freeway,” McAdam said. The project would also likely redesign the interchange ramp between I-80/SR 65 to move traffic at regular freeway speeds as opposed to the current design that slows traffic down before the transition. “Now that doesn’t function very well,” McAdam said. “While you are slowing people you also want to get enough people through that interchange fast enough to keep I-80 free flowing.”  There are some ideas that include separate lanes and various flyover connection designs. Eventually a connecting High Occupancy Vehicle lane will also be included. Funding could be an issue for the project as uncertainty in local, state and federal budgets remains an ongoing concern, according to McAdam. Even so transportation is needed.    “It sounds sad now but you’ve got to be ready,” McAdam said. “Because when things turn around, they turn around fast and transportation projects take a long time to develop.”   ------------- I-80/SR 65 Interchange Project For more information, e-mail questions to PCTPA at pctpa@pctpa.net, log on to their website www.8065interchange.org or call the PCTPA project manager Stan Tidman at (530) 823-4030