Caltrans describes planned bridge upgrades

By: Gloria Beverage
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Only a handful of residents attended Caltrans’ presentation on raising overcrossings on Interstate 80 in Placer County.
Caltrans spokesperson Rochelle Jenkins was in Colfax on March 17 to explain plans to increase the vertical clearance on eight overcrossings and one railroad underpass on Interstate 80 in Placer County.
Locally, the two overcrossings being lifted two feet are Weimar Cross Road and Magra.
Jenkins pointed out that I-80 is a federally designated corridor used by the military to transport goods and services across the U.S. — from New Jersey to the San Francisco Bay area.
Currently, tall loads must either bypass the shorter bridges or take surface streets or detour through Nevada or Southern California, she said.
According to Jenkins, the Federal Highway Administration considers the project a critical issue and is mandating that Caltrans ensure that all bridges meet the current standard clearance of 16 feet, six inches.
One of the primary concerns raised at last week’s open house was the impact on school bus service.
“We have already contacted the local school districts and we’re scheduling closures to work with their schedules,” Jenkins said. “We plan to eliminate as much inconvenience as we can.”
During construction, freeway on- and off-ramps will remain open so motorists can get on and off the freeway.
“There may be two nights for about four hours when the ramps will be closed in the middle of the night,” she said.
The overcrossings, on the other hand, will be closed to traffic for up to two months.
“No two consecutive bridges are going to be closed at the same time,” she said.
In addition to lifting the overcrossings, Caltrans will upgrade and seismically retrofit the structures.
Construction would begin in 2013 and could be completed by 2014.
Other structures being lifted are Brace, Horseshoe Bar and King Roads in Loomis, Penryn Road, Gilardi Road and the Newcastle Road overpass.
Also impacted is the Union Pacific railroad bridge in Newcastle.
Cost for the project is approximately $27 million, which is being funded by the state Highway Operation and Protection Program.

Open house
Interstate 80 overcrossing construction
When: 5 to 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 30
Where: Loomis Depot Building, 5775 Horseshoe Bar Road