Wednesday Mar 09 2011
Improvements are coming to Interstate 80 access
By: Kirk Uhler, Placer County Transportation Planning Agency
As a long time boardmember, and now chair, of the Placer County Transportation Planning Agency (PCTPA), I am honored to be on a team whose long-term visionary planning has kept over $400 million in major infrastructure projects on track for our region, despite unprecedented state budget challenges. In 2010, PCTPA experienced a year of significant progress on critically important transportation infrastructure improvements that will preserve the quality of life in Loomis and Placer County for generations to come, including: breaking the Interstate-80 bottleneck, raising Interstate-80 overcrossings and improving Horseshoe Bar Road’s access to Interstate-80. The Interstate 80 Bottleneck expansion project widens the freeway from nearly a mile east of Highway 65 to the Placer/Sacramento County line and is the result of over a decade of planning by local, state and federal officials. Scheduled for completion this fall, we are reducing traffic congestion, increasing fuel efficiency and making it easier for people to spend time with their families, instead of in traffic. Scheduled for construction in 2013, eight Placer County Interstate 80 overcrossings — including Brace Road, Horseshoe Bar Road, and King Road — will be raised to accommodate the current federal standard of 16 feet 6 inches for inter-regional truck traffic. The project will enable permit loads to continue along the I-80 corridor instead of diverting onto local roadways. We understand residents’ concern over long construction closures, and are planning accordingly to limit any inconvenience. Of greatest concern has been impacts to Horseshoe Bar Road, and we are pleased to inform residents that the closure length required while work is performed on this overpass has been reduced from 60 to 10 days. This change also provides opportunity for further improvements. Now in the planning phase, PCTPA is also helping efforts to improve the exits, ramps and intersections at Horseshoe Bar Road to ease freeway access for residents. We will continue to inform residents of project progress and involve the community in the process. While PCTPA is proud of these accomplishments, California’s budget deficit still poses significant risks and uncertainty for transportation planners in 2011. Fortunately, PCTPA’s major road projects have dedicated funding sources, and should be minimally impacted by the ongoing budget restructuring. But ongoing transportation needs, like filling potholes and running buses, are left up in the air. These uncertainties highlight the importance of early planning for infrastructure projects – had we not done that, projects like the I-80 Bottleneck fix might still be years away instead of nearly completed. We have a duty to continue to look to the region’s future needs, just as our predecessors decades ago planned to meet the needs of Placer County in 2011. The Placer County transportation team is proud to have made tremendous strides in recent years. We are building infrastructure that is vitally needed and provides tremendous benefit to residents, businesses and travelers from throughout the country. I want to acknowledge the great team of local leaders, including the PCTPA Board and staff, as well as city, state and federal officials, whose shared vision has been central to our success in the region. We look forward to continuing to engage the community in the planning process and delivering improvements that ensure Placer County will continue to be the best place to work, live and raise a family. Placer County Transportation Planning Agency is the forum for making decisions about the regional transportation system in Placer County. The decisions made are reflected in PCTPA's planning and programming of the area's state and federal transportation funds.