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Highway 65 construction on schedule

Drivers can expect delays as demolition work moved to daytime
By: Steve Archer, Reporter
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Highway 65 construction improvements are on schedule, a California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) spokesman said Friday, but drivers can expect increased congestion and delays as demolition work moves to days.

Demolition work on the viaduct portion was previously done at night but noise complaints recently prompted city of Rocklin officials to ask for a switch to daytime demolition.

“There has been open communication between the Placer County Transportation Planning Agency, Caltrans and the city of Rocklin during (construction of the highway improvements),” said Rocklin spokesman Michael Young Young. “After construction began and since the demolition began of the K-rail, we realized there were some challenges that needed to be addressed.”

“We are satisfied with the solution to move to day time demolition,” Young added. “The needs of Rocklin residents has been met while the needs of the region, by keeping two lanes open on the viaduct section of the interchange, have also been met by keeping traffic flowing.”

The $50-million, Phase I portion of the improvements to the interchange is split into two parts: adding a third lane on the viaduct and adding a third lane from the interchange to Pleasant Grove Boulevard.

Construction of the remaining phases could cost as much as $400 million and could take 20 years to secure funding, according to Placer County Transportation Planning Agency executive director Mike Luken. A transportation funding measure that could have funded the interchange improvements failed in 2016.

Luken said the agency’s board of directors has directed him and his staff to pursue another funding ballot measure but that will require an act by the state legislature to allow a portion of Placer County to tax itself.

“A sub-county district, something less than countywide, will focus on south Placer County,” Luken said. “A bill by the state legislature is required to allow that to happen. We’re attempting to create legislation to allow a portion of the county to assess itself for transportation improvements.”

Luken hopes the legislation will be in place in 2019.

Phase I funding is from five sources: $28.8 million from Caltrans Safety and Maintenance; $9.9 million from  Placer County Transportation Planning Agency I-80 Bottleneck Savings; $3.6 million from the transportation planning agency’s State Bond Freight funding; $6 million from Highway 65 Interchange development impact fees and $1.7 million from South Placer Regional Transportation Authority development impact fees, according to the transportation planning agency’s website.

Nearly 210,000 vehicle trips are made through the interchange daily, Luken said.

Caltrans spokesman Gilbert Mohtes-Chan said Friday the project’s completion is still expected to be by the end of 2019. Construction is at the Highway 65-Interstate 80 interchange’s viaduct bridge structure and at the northbound Highway 65 widening from the interchange to Pleasant Grove Boulevard, according to Mohtes-Chan.

“The highway widening is weather dependent and we haven’t had any weather delays,” Mohtes-Chan said. “They will be working on the widening as long as the weather stays good.”

Demolition of the viaduct structure’s barrier rail is in the early stages, with only about 10 percent of the length or 250 feet of the barrier rail demolished, according to Mohtes-Chan.

Drivers should expect congestion and delays.

“Starting Monday, the demolition will be shifting to daytime work, starting at 6 a.m. The nighttime demolition work closed a lane but the day work will leave all lanes open and adjust the (concrete barriers,” Mohtes-Chan said. “The two (northbound) lanes will remain open and allow traffic to flow but (drivers) will likely have slowdowns from rubbernecking.”

“It’s human nature to slow down and look, but if drivers could move through the area without slowing down, it will keep the flow,” Mohtes-Chan said. “We will have to see how Monday goes as far as the length of delays.”

The viaduct’s barrier rail demolition will not be continuous, according to Mohtes-Chan.

“Once one section is done, the workers have to set up the (platform or support) to work on the next section, which can take two to three days,” Mohtes-Chan said. “The goal is to minimize the inconvenience to residents and motorists. We’re looking to balance out those interests.”