FAIRFIELD — People who drove Wednesday from eastbound Interstate 80 to eastbound Highway 12 leading toward Suisun City found themselves taking a new route.
The state Department of Transportation opened the new connector between the two roadways. This connector is part of the California Highway Patrol truck scales renovation project that is to be finished this summer.
Only part of the $98 million truck scales project is about providing bigger, modern eastbound I-80 truck scales to replace the half-century-old present version. The other part is about changing the way trucks enter and leave the scales to improve traffic flow on the freeway.
That’s where the new connector is to come in. It will ultimately separate trucks leaving the new truck scales for I-80 from the traffic leaving I-80 for Highway 12.
Traffic taking the new connector gains elevation as it passes over a feature that Caltrans officials call “the box.” Trucks leaving the new scales for the freeway will drive through an opening in this concrete structure.
Caltrans spokesman Vince Jacala last week called the opening of the new connector “a milestone” in the truck scales project. He said the new truck scales could open near the end of June or early July. The entire project could be completed in October, including such tasks as adding landscaping and destroying the old truck scales.
Drivers making their first trip on the new connector around 7 a.m. Wednesday faced a couple of minor challenges. Not only did they suddenly have an unfamiliar route with an exit at a different spot along I-80, they had to navigate this route as the rising sun shone into their eyes. And they just might have had a nagging doubt about whether they were doing the right thing or driving into a construction zone.
They were doing the right thing. The opening of the new connector had come just short of a year after the April 20, 2012, groundbreaking ceremony for the truck scales project.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.