Meeting tonight on bridge closures

Caltrans plans could have local I-80 crossings closed for months
By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Staff Writer
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Plans by Caltrans to close Loomis bridges over Interstate 80 for several months will devastate Loomis businesses, a town official said. “Times are tough. This would really hurt the businesses on Horseshoe Bar and hurt the town’s sales tax revenue. Plus, it would inconvenience a lot of people,” said councilman Miguel Ucovich. Ucovich and other council members urge the public to share their concerns about the bridge closures at Horseshoe Bar, King, Brace, Penryn and Gilardi roads at the Caltrans meeting. The open house will run from 5 to 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 30, at the Loomis Depot. Rochelle Jenkins, a Caltrans spokesperson, said the bridge at Interstate 80 and Horseshoe Bar Road will be closed for two to three months during construction, which is slated for sometime between 2013 to 2016. She said the on and off ramps will remain open during construction. Drivers traveling westbound on the freeway will be able to exit and enter normally, but will not be able to cross the bridge. Eastbound travelers could enter and exit I-80, but would not be able to cross over the bridge to the business district. “A lot of our business comes from the freeway,” said Maria Pena, a Quizno’s employee. Lisa Oseto, assistant manager of Round Table Pizza on Horseshoe Bar Road, said, “This would extremely hurt our business. People would go right by on the freeway and go somewhere else. They’re not going to make a detour.” According to Caltrans officials, the bridges in Loomis and Penryn, as well as at and Newcastle Road, must be raised to meet federal height requirements. Bridges near Colfax at Weimar and Magra also need to be raised. Jenkins said I-80 is a federally designated corridor for the movement of the military and goods and services with a clearance requirement of 16 feet, six inches. “Interstate 80 is a strategic corridor for national defense. In the unlikely event that they needed to move giant generators, tanks or anything like that, they couldn’t,” Jenkins said. She said tall loads currently either have to bypass the shorter bridges and take surface roads or detour through the Nevada desert and through Southern California, which she said would cost time in an emergency. Jenkins said the Federal Highway Administration “considers it a critical issue” and “says we have to do it.” Ucovich said there is another option. He said Caltrans can leave the bridges alone and lower the roads beneath them, as they plan to do on I-80 under the Newcastle Union Pacific railroad bridge. A Caltrans information sheet states, “traffic volumes on Route I-80 are many times higher than the traffic volumes on the local overcrossing structures” and “construction costs to lower I-80 are greater than costs to raise the structures.” Doug Lange, Caltrans project manager, said the estimated cost to raise the Horseshoe Bar overcrossing is $2.2 million and the estimated cost to lower the road on Interstate 80 is $3.7 million. The estimate for all of the bridges is approximately $27 million, which is funded by the State Highway Operation and Protection Program. Brian Fragiao, town engineer, said the length of the bridge closures will depend on weather during construction. Jenkins said Caltrans has not scheduled the order of bridge construction, but did say work would not be conducted on more than one Loomis overcrossing at a time. --------------------------- INTERSTATE 80 BRIDGE PROJECT OPEN HOUSE What: Caltrans Interstate 80 bridge closure meeting When: 5 to 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 30 Where: Loomis Depot, 5775 Horseshoe Bar Road, Loomis Format: Open house to ask questions and exchange information