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Davis, California

Monday, September 27, 2021

Fix 50 reparations to cause additional traffic on commencement weekend

The Caltrans rehabilitation of U.S. Highway 50 that began April 22 has brought up some concerns regarding traffic during commencement weekend from June 13 to June 15. The setbacks have been less severe than originally anticipated by faculty.

The rehabilitation taking place between 18th and 24th streets in Sacramento has gone into its Eastbound Phase 2. The Eastbound Phase 1 ended five days ahead of schedule May 1. Each phase is worked on 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The six-lane freeway at this section runs over downtown Sacramento streets, freight and light rail lines. Built in 1968, the road had never gotten maintenance which has since produced severe cracking, meriting rehabilitation. The intention is to increase safety while also preventing recurring maintenance cost.

Phase 2 of the project will proceed until May 21 with two to three lanes available for use. The 16th and 11th streets on-ramps will be closed, along with the connector ramp from eastbound Highway 50 to southbound Highway 99 as well as the connector ramp from eastbound Highway 50  to eastbound Business 80.

Westbound traffic will be fully open until Westbound Phase 1, which is set to begin May 27. Its second phase is scheduled to end June 25.

The maintenance had been a concern in terms of traffic for commuters and students — particularly with commencement approaching. Nick Crossley, the manager for UC Davis Emergency Management and Mission Continuity, explains the impact this may have on commencement which takes place for undergraduates June 14 and June 15.

“The contractor and Caltrans always state that the delay may be as much as an hour. Anyone traveling to graduation should plan for this… In addition, the commencement organizers have ensured that all communications mention the project … and encourage people traveling to campus through the construction allow enough time for travel,” Crossley said.

Crossley said that the construction thus far has had little to no impact on commuters, with the longest he’s heard of being a 30-minute delay in the eastbound phase.

“General consensus has been that the impact to both the Davis and Sacramento campuses has been far less than expected. We are unsure at this time, beyond educated guesses as to the impact when they begin westbound construction after Memorial Day,” Crossley said.

Other campus representatives from various departments have taken the construction as an opportunity to encourage the use of alternative transportation. Leslie Mancebo, the Transportation Demand and Marketing coordinator from UC Davis Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS), said that they also began meeting in February to discuss the Fix 50 project in terms of it’s potential impact and possible solutions.

“A number of efforts were made to communicate with the campus community about the project and mitigation measures were put into place,” Mancebo said.

Mancebo adds that every year, TAPS coordinates parking with the UC Davis Police Department. Other safety precautions include providing staff to manage parking lots and managing the flow of traffic. This year, they are working with University Communications to publicize the potential delays as well as alternatives, such as Amtrak.

“Additional spaces are designated for disabled guests and parking lot utilization is closely monitored to ensure timely closure of the lots as they reach capacity and efficient redirection to the next available lot. In addition, TAPS usual services of motorist assistance and visitor services such as distribution of maps and directions are available during commencement,” Mancebo said.

Commencement is always a major concern, said UC Davis Police Sergeant William A. Beerman. It is always a top priority to ensure the safety of students and their families and he encourages families to plan the day in advance.

“There will be additional signage as well as traffic informational boards directing drivers to the different parking locations near the graduation sites. Attendees should be encouraged to give themselves ample time to arrive to graduation… Anticipate that traffic will be heavy, plan for these issues and they will be easier to deal with on the day of the big event,” Beerman said.

Aside from commencement, the traffic delays due to freeway reparation haven’t affected the City of Davis much, says senior civil engineer for the Davis Public Works Department Roxanne Namazi.

“I know people that commute in and that might be a problem … I don’t know if right now it has created too many delays though it’s working out better than they expected especially because of the offers for commuting,” Namazi said. “This is definitely important, you don’t want roads to fall apart.”

GABRIELLA HAMLETT can be reached at city@theaggie.org.

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