Sacramento freeway closures to cause heavy traffic for UC Davis commuters

UC Davis student and faculty commuters will be affected by Caltrans’ Fix50 plan this spring.

The first stage of the rehabilitation project to enhance the W/X Viaduct of U.S. Highway 50 in Sacramento begins April 22. The Viaduct is the elevated section of the highway that requires construction from heavy use.

Eastbound construction starts from April to May 21, with the westbound side beginning shortly after from May 27 to June 25.

Ramp closures are expected to cause congestion and traffic for drivers. Eastbound and westbound traffic will share eight lanes with three lanes on the construction side open and all five remaining open in the opposite direction.

The most crowded areas are predicted to be where the U.S. 50 connects with Business 80 and where U.S. 50 connects with state Highway 99. Ramp closures will cause major detours as well.

“Caltrans estimates that the delay going through the affected side of the W/X Viaduct could be as much as an hour during high traffic periods,” said Deanna Shoopman, chief of Public Information & Graphic Services of Caltrans. “That could be reduced if motorists help by reducing unnecessary trips, carpooling, taking public transit, walking or biking, or modify their schedule to avoid rush hour.”

Traffic from the Fix50 project may not only be exclusive to the highways. Some congestion extending to the city of Davis is also a possibility.

“The work to be done will have the greatest impact on commuters; however, we may see some backups on city streets due to increased congestion on Highway 113 and Interstate 80,” said Brian K. Mickelson, assistant city engineer and transportation manager of the City of Davis Public Works Department.

UC Davis Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS) has provided a Commuter Guide available on its website, http://taps.ucdavis.edu, to help alleviate the hassle. For those potentially affected by Fix50, the TAPS Commuter Check program will provide an $18 discount on Amtrak passes between Sacramento and Davis. Details can be found on http://taps.ucdavis.edu/fix50.

“The congestion will certainly cause delays for UC Davis faculty, staff and students coming to the Davis or Sacramento campuses, or traveling between the two campuses, as well as commencement guests and other visitors, and hospital and clinic patients,” said Leslie Mancebo, transportation demand and marketing coordinator at UC Davis. “UC Davis is currently encouraging commuters to plan ahead for delays, consider alternate transportation or talk with supervisors about flexible scheduling, telecommuting or compressed workweeks.”

Many transportation services have made efforts to collaborate with each other and Caltrans to make the best of the situation for drivers. Caltrans is working closely with the University’s Public Information office to provide information and assistance, while the City of Davis is actively relaying information provided by Caltrans to the rest of the community and its employees.

“In particular, Yolobus is advocating for resources from Caltrans to provide additional service between Davis and downtown Sacramento in an attempt to get cars off the road and to address the significant delay in transit service that Yolobus expects as a result of the Fix50 project,” said Teri Sheets, assistant general manager of Unitrans. “To the degree that Unitrans can support Yolobus in its efforts to serve residents of the City of Davis, we will do so.”

Unitrans provides direct service to the Amtrak station and connects passengers to almost every major destination within the city. Unitrans also accepts Amtrak transfers without any additional fares, making it a smooth transition for commuters.

NICOLE YI can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.