FAIRFIELD — Solano County got the option it wanted from the state for the Interstates 80 and 680 interchange renovation – an improved interchange to be built about a half-mile west of the present location.
Now all that’s needed is about $2 billion to make every project listed in a recently released final environmental study a reality.
That, plus a little more time for “final” to become final. People can still submit comments on what’s called the final environmental report to the state Department of Transportation through Nov. 18.
The interchange has long been the area’s most notorious freeway traffic bottleneck. The proposed solution includes not only relocating and rebuilding the interchange itself, but also doing a number of freeway widening and interchange projects all the way to Highway 12 near Suisun City, six miles away.
Relocating and reconstructing the Interstates 80 and 680 interchange itself is to cost more than $700 million.
“That project will be built in construction packages,” Solano Transportation Authority Director of Projects Janet Adams said Monday. “It won’t be built at one time.”
The first package is to cost about $111 million and the money is available. It involves improving the westbound I-80 connection with Highway 12 at Jameson Canyon leading toward Napa and improving the Green Valley interchange.
Adams said Caltrans could advertise this first project for construction next summer, with construction to start in 2014. Projects beyond that depend on securing money, she said.
“We have an environmentally cleared project,” Adams said. “That will really help us as far as attracting funds. It’s a matter of how much the federal government, the state government and regional entities want to invest in this interchange complex.”
The final environmental study said the entire, $2 billion project might not be completed until beyond the study’s 22-year planning horizon.
Caltrans looked at and rejected the option of reconstructing the Interstates 80 and 680 interchange at its present location. According to the study, relocating the Interstates 80 and 680 interchange a half-mile to the west is the better option because it:
The final study includes replies to question submitted by residents, businesses and agencies in 2010 after seeing the draft environmental study. Among those commenting is a Cordelia Villages resident who suggested relieving congestion by building a road connecting I-680 in the Cordelia area with Highway 12 near Suisun City.
Transportation officials considered and rejected building such a Cordelia/Suisun City link because the road would cross state-protected Suisun Marsh, the environmental study said.
Fairfield Public Works Director George Hicks in a letter expressed several concerns about businesses that will have to be moved to make room for the relocated interchange. Among other things, he asked that, when possible, the businesses should be relocated within Fairfield.
Caltrans added that provision to the environmental study.
The Fairfield-Suisun School District in a letter expressed concerns concerning traffic near Rodriguez High School. The proposed project includes building an interchange at I-680 and Red Top Road/Lopes Road to the southeast of Rodriguez and an improved interchange at I-80 and Red Top Road to the northwest.
Drivers could then take Red Top Road past Rodriguez High School between the two freeways to escape freeway traffic, wrote Kim Van Gundy of the Fairfield-Suisun School District. The proposed changes could create the “Red Top Road bypass,” she wrote.
But Caltrans doesn’t foresee more Red Top Road traffic. Less congestion at an improved Interstates 80 and 680 interchange would mean less incentive for freeway drivers to seek alternate routes, the final environmental study said.
The final environmental report comes a decade after the Solano Transportation Authority launched the latest drive to renovate the Interstates 80 and 680 interchange. The agency and Caltrans unveiled the two major options for a renovated interchange in 2007.
Go to the Solano Transportation Authority website at www.sta.ca.gov to see the final environmental study,
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.