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Roseville bottleneck almost thing of the past

By: ToLewis, The Press Tribune
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For the first time in more than a decade, commuters and motorists may soon think about the famous Roseville bottleneck as a thing of the past. The $47 million second phase of the Interstate 80 expansion project was completed and opened to traffic Friday morning. The third and final phase of the project will extend new freeway lanes from Miners Ravine to about one mile east of Highway 65, according to Celia McAdam with the Placer County Transportation Planning Agency. McAdam said the third phase is expected to be completed sometime around the second week of October. “For the traveling public, that segment is still going to be under construction for another month,” she said. “It depends on weather and things that you can’t control, but we are closing in on the date.” The completion of the second phase means a total of six eastbound traffic lanes, one being a carpool lane and another an auxiliary lane, are open between the Placer County line and Miners Ravine around Eureka Road. Heading westbound, three traffic lanes and one carpool lane are now open on that same 2.8-mile stretch of roadway. The completion of the third phase will extend those lanes in both directions from Miners Ravine to about one mile east of Highway 65, McAdam said. Cynthia Moore works for a nonprofit organization in Sacramento and commutes from Roseville every day, sometimes even on weekends, with a typical commute time anywhere between 30 minutes to well over an hour, she said. “With this improvement project, I’m already experiencing some shortened commute times and easier traffic flow,” Moore said. “I think this project is something that’s been really critical. It’s a good example of how Roseville, Placer County and state and federal entities can work together toward something that is really going to help people in the community.” Weather has been a cooperating factor in speeding the project along, according to Dennis Keaton, spokesman for CalTrans. “If you’ve noticed, it’s been staying dark later and it’s also been getting cooler,” Keaton said. “A lot of the construction projects for the area started at the beginning of the summer.” Keaton said the project, which has been in the works since 2002, was given a completion date for the fall of 2011, and CalTrans is working with the Placer County Transportation Planning Agency to complete the project on schedule. “They’ve really made up time from some of the delays they had with the weather this spring,” McAdam said. McAdam said the purpose of the project is to relieve congestion and improve traffic safety for the 165,000 motorists who pass through the bottleneck area on average each day. 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. As a result, traffic was squeezed into fewer lanes on Interstate 80 between Douglas Boulevard and Riverside Avenue before hitting the Sacramento County line. Most of the money for phase two came from a Federal earmark designated to the Placer County Transportation Planning Agency, according to McAdam. The total cost for phase three is $35.5 million, with 65 percent of the funding coming from state Proposition 1B bonds, which voters passed in 2006, and 35 percent coming from a Federal earmark, according to data released by the PCTPA. Toby Lewis can be reached at tobyl@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TobyLewis_RsvPT.