Monday, April 21, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
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State releases final interchange environmental study for comment

I-80 and I-680 interchange traffic

Traffic along Interstae 680 merges onto Interstate 80 during rush hour Monday in Fairfield. (Conner Jay/Daily Republic)

By
From page A1 | November 06, 2012 | 9 Comments

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:

  • Helps keep regional traffic off local roads by providing a better connection with Highway 12 through Jameson Canyon toward Napa.
  • Provides direct connectors for all traffic shifting between freeways. Renovating the interchange at its present site would not provide a direct connection between northbound I-680 and westbound I-80.
  • Relocates a stretch of I-680 away from rural Cordelia.
  • Can be built more easily than trying to renovate the interchange at its present location while keeping traffic moving.
  • Creates less confusion and traffic conflicts than renovating the interchange at its present location.

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 beberling@dailyrepublic.net. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 9 comments

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  • Danny BuntinNovember 05, 2012 - 11:07 pm

    This makes no sense to me. The bottle neck is not at 680/80 anymore. It is caused by the 70 degree turn at W. Texas, and lessening of lanes. Add the merging traffic from W.Texas, Travis blvd, and Air Base Prky. Depending on what day it is, you could be in stop and go traffic all the way to Vacaville. I fail to see how this modification will help.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mr. PracticalNovember 06, 2012 - 6:16 am

    Danny, I think they may be two seperate problems.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • RichNovember 06, 2012 - 6:29 am

    Good analysis. Man, your state's roads and finances sure are messed up! You can't go anywhere in your state without hitting a traffic jam. Today you could start setting it right by throwing your failed leader money beggars out of office. But like Greece, you wont. And you will continue to suffer from corruption, insolvency, high unemployment, high taxes, high gas and grocery prices, riots, disorders and political gridlock.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • LilNovember 05, 2012 - 11:14 pm

    Yeah, I agree. The bottleneck is no longer at the 680/80 interchange. I take this route everyday to work and I haven't seen it backed up in that area for a couple of years at least. This change is no longer needed, at least not to this degree.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mr. PracticalNovember 06, 2012 - 6:14 am

    Prior to the ecomomy going south, if you didn't get through the interchange by about 4pm the traffic would be backed up several miles. This lessened as unemployment rose, more people were telecomuting to save gas and government enacted forloughs. I travel this commute a few days a week and it is slowly becoming more congested. By the time the project is complete, it may likely be back to how it was 7-8 years ago. It's a critical project.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Danny BuntinNovember 06, 2012 - 8:19 am

    You would know more then me then Mr. P. I do not travel this route anymore, but just by observances I do not see a need. I used this route from 1997-2003, and I remember the two lanes backing up past Gold Hill rd on 680. When they added the dedicated lane for the merge onto 80, this seemed to solve it- I thought. I do see a use in making the connection with 12 and 680/80 in one place.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • ter666November 06, 2012 - 10:49 am

    The free merge lane to 80 did help, but keep in mind that soon after it was built, construction of the new Benicia bridge started. This caused a huge bottleneck in Martinez easing the 680/80 interchange. The bridge was finished right about the time the economy tanked. I agree with Mr P, once the economy improves and traffic returns to pre 2008 levels, this interchange will be a mess once again.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Jason KnowlesNovember 06, 2012 - 5:33 pm

    When I taught at A-Rod, on Fridays it would take me an hour or more to get to my home in Vacaville. In the mornings, if I didn't make it to Red Top Road before 7:15, it was backed up onto I-80. Something needs to be done there.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • FixFairfield.OrgNovember 06, 2012 - 6:59 pm

    Let's make sure they are not trying to build around the main gateway to downtown Fairfield. Past bypasses greatly hurt downtown Fairfield. It's a very complicated yet interesting subject. Unfortunately decisions have gotten too political and not always what is best for the small businesses which lack political clout.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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