The Bottleneck: ‘People must remain patient and let us do our work’

By: Brad Smith -- The Press Tribune
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It will be some time before Roseville’s Interstate 80 bottleneck is fixed. The I-80 Bottleneck Project will be completed by mid-2011 said Celia McAdam of the Placer County Transportation Planning Agency. McAdam said she will be honest about the situation. “It’s going through a long, hard and dirty period of construction,” McAdam said. “But people must remain patient and let us do our work. Trust me, when we’re done – you’re going to be very pleased.” On Wednesday McAdam and members from CalTrans were part of a town hall meeting and tour of various roadway construction sites – including the Bottleneck. “We felt it was important to keep people informed of our progress,” she said. “I know a lot of people have questions and concerns.” McAdam said the I-80 Bottleneck Project started sometime after Sacramento County finished its interstate renovations. “It was all 10 lanes until you hit the Placer County line,” McAdam said. “Then it was six lanes and a lot of frustrated drivers. The bottleneck causes more than 463,000 hours of delay every year.” McAdam said the county – along with CalTrans and the City of Roseville – drew up plans to correct the problem. The plan called for expansion of traffic lanes, increasing them from six to 10. “Once we got through the environmental assessment process, things moved quickly,” McAdam said. “Phase 1 – which extended the eastbound on-ramp from Riverside Avenue/Auburn Boulevard to become an auxiliary lane through to the Douglas Boulevard interchange – was finished in 2007.” The second phase is adding carpool and auxiliary lanes from the county line to Eureka Road. McAdam said that phase would be completed late this year. “The final phase is adding similar lanes from Eureka Road to Highway 65,” she said. This is now under construction and is set to finish in summer 2011, McAdam said. “Other than the length of time involved, this is one of the best projects I’ve ever worked on,” McAdam said. “There have been no major problems or challenges. Support for this project has been universal and funding hasn’t been a problem.” She said that people have been patient and understanding of the situation. “People coming through the Bottleneck have been very cautious and aware of the construction going on around them,” McAdam said. “We haven’t had serious traffic collisions or people being hurt during these projects. I guess folks have gotten used to the situation.” McAdam hopes that people’s collective patience and understanding will continue. “Because the pay-off is something really great,” she said. “When this is done, the bottleneck will be a thing of the past. Roseville will be free of it and commuters will be able to enjoy the expanded traffic lanes. “That’s what this project has been all about.” David King, a former Rocklin resident who is in the process of moving to Tahoe, said he knows the frustration of dealing with jam-packed traffic lanes. “I didn’t a need a sign telling me I was in Placer County,” he said. “The instant I saw dozens of cars and trucks ahead of me – moving at a snail’s pace if I was lucky – I knew where I was.” King said he thought the widening project will work. “I’ve seen it work in other places and I think people should be happy with it,” he said. “I know I will be.” ---------- Cost: The entire project is currently estimated to cost $89.3 million – with $71.6 million secured by former Congressman John Doolittle and a coalition of advocates who had an interstate widening project put in a 2005 Federal transportation bill. All phases of the project are now fully funded through a combination of Federal earmarks, State transportation infrastructure bond funding, and local development fees. Timeline: Phase 1: Extended eastbound on-ramp from Riverside Ave/Auburn Blvd to become an auxiliary lane through to the Douglas Blvd interchange. This phase also included purchase of all right of way needed for the full project (Completed August 2007). Phase 2: Eastbound and westbound carpool and auxiliary lanes from the Sacramento/Placer County line to just west of Miners Ravine (between the Lead Hill Blvd over crossing and Eureka Road) will be constructed along with westbound improvements at the Auburn/Riverside Blvd, Douglas Blvd, and Atlantic/Eureka Road interchanges (Still under construction and will be completed by the end of the year). Phase 3: Add auxiliary lanes and carpool lanes on both eastbound and westbound sides from just west of Miners Ravine to just east of SR 65, approximately 2.2 miles in length (Still under construction and will be completed by mid-2011). ---------- Brad Smith can be reached at