FAIRFIELD — Ramp metering lights along onramps on eastbound Interstate 80 through Fairfield are to debut in early 2014.
That’s the latest schedule being discussed by local, regional and state transportation officials. A public outreach campaign is to be launched first.
The Solano Transportation Authority’s Technical Advisory Committee heard an update Wednesday on ramp metering plans. Public works officials from the county and its seven cities sit on the committee.
The state Department of Transportation and Metropolitan Transportation Commission have been promoting ramp metering lights in the Bay Area to improve traffic flow. The lights are supposed to eliminate platoons of cars entering the freeway. It’s like having a mini-traffic signal on an onramp, one that changes from red to green every few seconds.
Ramp metering lights along I-80 onramps in Fairfield have been in place since 2009, but sat inactive as transportation officials worked on rules to govern their operation. Now, transportation officials have further refined their recommendations.
Eastbound ramp metering lights are to come first, since evening rush hour sees the worst I-80 traffic snarls in Fairfield. Hours of operation are to be from 3 to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, though possibly Monday and Tuesday might be left out. Hours are to be 2 to 7 p.m. on a typical Friday and 2 to 8 p.m. on a Friday with a long weekend.
Red lights are to be governed by freeway traffic flows, rather than a static amount of time. Loops under the freeway pavement, installed along with the 2009 car pool lane project, measure traffic flow on the local stretch of I-80.
So-called “freeway-to-freeway” ramp metering lights have drawn special attention from local transportation officials. The metering light on the onramp from northbound Interstate 680 to eastbound I-80 is not to be turned on next year. That’s because traffic during rush hour can back up onto I-680.
“It’s already stopped anyway,” Solano Transportation Authority Director of Project Janet Adams said.
But that’s the only exception at this point. The metering light on the ramp connecting eastbound Highway 12 through Jameson Canyon with eastbound I-80 is to be turned on.
Kittelson & Associates Inc. during a week last May looked at travel times on eastbound I-80 from Red Top Road to North Texas Street, a distance of almost 10 miles. At 5 p.m., the trip took about 10 minutes on a Tuesday, compared to about 18 minutes on a Friday. On the Friday before Memorial Day, the trip took about 30 minutes.
The eastbound Fairfield ramp metering lights are to be only a start. In early 2015, eastbound and westbound ramp metering lights are to be activated from Redwood Road in Vallejo to Interstate 505 in Vacaville.
No schedule yet exists for a third phase, which would add the stretch between Interstate 505 and the Yolo County line and Carquinez Bridge and Redwood Street.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.