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Our View

Drive cautiously during much-needed Highway 65/I-80 repair

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We’re glad to see the high cranes over the Highway 65/Interstate 80 viaduct.

This means the long-awaited Phase one improvements to the Highway 65/Interstate 80 interchange is finally underway.

The first set of improvements of a $450-million upgrade began April 30 and is expected to finish by 2020, barring extreme weather and/or unexpected events.

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), developer impact fees and Proposition 1B have mostly funded the improvements for Phase One, which costs $50 million.

When completed, Phase one will provide a third lane on northbound Highway 65 from Interstate 80 to Pleasant Grove Boulevard and add improvements to the Galleria Boulevard/Stanford Ranch Road interchange on/off ramps.

Along with the cranes are construction barriers now in place at the Highway 65 viaduct to just past the Galleria Boulevard/Stanford Ranch exit. Construction is in full force. 

Those of us using Highway 65 to drive to work, school, shop, play and travel to our other activities will spend a little extra time in the car as our route is impacted by the construction.

That’s our new reality.

The good news is the construction should shorten our drive time once the roadwork is finished.

“Phase one is addressing the most significant impact on congestion, which is northbound 65 from I-80 to Pleasant Grove,” said Placer County Transportation Planning Agency executive director Mike Luken. “It will have significant improvement upon their drive time.”

During the last few years, regular commuters who drive Highway 65 during non-peak hours have seen a decrease in the number of non-peak hours. Rush hour seems to extend later in the morning and start earlier in the afternoon.

Gridlock is now something to consider when planning summer activities such as visiting the Galleria Mall, TopGolf, Camp Far West Reservoir, Hidden Falls Regional Park or a Lincoln Potters baseball game.

The interchange, located between Rocklin and Roseville, was built 30 years ago when Placer County’s population was 136,000. Today, Placer County’s population has tripled and filled out to Lincoln and beyond. So the increased traffic jams on Placer County’s Highway 65 are not surprising.

About 210,000 vehicles use the interchange daily, according to the Placer County Transportation Planning Agency, which coverage includes Loomis, Lincoln, Rocklin, Roseville and Auburn. The planning agency is in partnership with lead agency California Department of Transportation on the Highway 65 improvements.

Most Highway 65 drivers will say that improvements are needed.

At peak times during the workweek and other days, I-80 drivers traveling near the Highway 65 can get stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Daily, there are times when I-80 backups can go eastbound all the way to Rocklin and westbound to the county line. During rush hour, Roseville drivers going east of the Highway 65 interchange must watch out for slowly-moving traffic in the interchange’s connector ramp.

So we’re pleased to see the Phase one improvements, even if that means we have to make temporary modifications in our drives.

Ramps will be closed the next three months from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Mondays through Fridays at Galleria/Stanford Ranch Road. Other temporary closures will happen from time to time.

Drivers can make it easier on themselves when driving Highway 65 the next several months by taking extra driving safety precautions. Reduce your speed and be especially alert near construction areas. The workers put their lives at risk every day as motorists drive either too fast or distracted.

Take alternate routes and add in additional travel time so you arrive safely and less stressed to your appointments.

And Luken of the Placer County Transportation Planning Agency suggests that drivers check www.dot.ca.gov/d3 or 8065interchange.org for construction and traffic updates.

We’re going to appreciate the improvements. Any construction inconveniences are worth it.