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Long-awaited bypass celebrates 1-year anniversary

By: Carol Feineman, Editor
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I admit that I still think of Lincoln Boulevard as G Street.

G Street was renamed last year to coincide with the long-awaited 11.7 mile Lincoln Highway 65 Bypass opening.

Other than that slip over the renamed boulevard, I don't spend a lot of time thinking about driving to and from Lincoln.

The new infrastructure was built to improve mobility and stimulate economic development. The Highway 65 bypass consists of four lanes from Industrial Boulevard to Nelson Lane and two lanes from Nelson Lane to Riosa Road in Sheridan. The total cost to construct the first phase was $325 million, according to past News Messenger reports, and was paid by governmental funds.

It seems like the bypass has been part of Lincoln for years, rather than since Oct. 7, 2012 when it opened to traffic.

Historically, though, the bypass has been a big part of Lincoln. The bypass was in the works for 40 years.

Last year, it became the longest stretch of new highway built in a decade, according to Caltrans director Malcom Dougherty during the bypass’ ribbon-cutting ceremony on Oct. 5, 2012.

Approximately 500 residents and governmental officials showed up last year for the ribbon-cutting in cold and rain-threatening weather.

Today, we tend to take the bypass for granted and forget that it has been open only 12 months.

Prior to the bypass opening, proponents said the infrastructure would bring “locals,” who didn’t like the prior heavy traffic on G Street, back to town. Residents visiting downtown would be good for area businesses, proponents explained.

Conversely, opponents said that the bypass would lead potential customers away from Lincoln and businesses would then flounder.

The News Messenger’s advertising representative Jennifer Parisius recently asked some downtown business owners if the Lincoln Highway 65 Bypass has affected their business. Out of four replies, three were positive. One didn’t notice any difference.

“The bypass has been good for my business. Many people have previously told me that they were scared of all the cars and noise coming down our streets,” said Katie Trott, the Sew Katie Jean owner. “They feel much more comfortable now and seem to enjoy spending more time in downtown Lincoln.”

Sew Katie Jean is in the heart of downtown Lincoln, at 603 5th St.

Pete Foote of Riebe’s Auto Parts, at 447 Lincoln Blvd., was just as complimentary.

“The bypass has been very positive for us. More people from outside of town now will come into town. Customers that I might see twice a month I will see once a week or more,” Foote said. “Also, the bypass has been good for our deliveries. Less traffic in town to move quicker but also we use the bypass to move faster from the end of Industrial out to Wheatland.”

The Awful Annie’s owners, across the street from Riebe’s, at 490 Lincoln Blvd. are also pleased with the bypass.

“The bypass has been a benefit to our business and many customers have responded, letting us know it is such an easy drive to the restaurant now that most of the trucks are gone,” said co-owner Jai Baker.

Residents, who frequently drive to Sacramento, Marysville and beyond, are also complimentary of the bypass.

“Going south hasn’t changed much and we do most of our driving in that direction. But when we do head toward the Marysville area, we take the new section of the bypass,” Lincoln Hills resident John Bush said. “We find it much faster and easier getting to the northern cities than it used to be. We’re looking forward to the new section opening up next year.”

Resident Shirl Schweitzer also likes the new, improved roadway.

“I live in Sun City and I travel 65 South at least four times a week. I definitely like the easy on/off access to Lincoln Boulevard,” Schweitzer said. “I don’t travel 65 North as much but the new extension is a lot nicer than 65 North was when I moved here last year. Compared to other places I have lived, the traffic congestion on 65 is minimal!”

And we should see more efficiency from the bypass after the next construction phase is finished.

“We’re not done. Two lanes need to be added from Nelson to Wise Road and ultimately will be four lanes to Sheridan,” Caltrans’ Dougherty said at last year’s grand-opening ceremony.

That construction should be completed by fall 2014, according to Caltrans public-information officer Gilbert Mohtes-Chan this week.

It looks like the bypass is working. It is reducing traffic and bringing residents back to Lincoln Boulevard, the heart of downtown.