Caltrans officials have given truck drivers the green light to drive in eastbound express lanes on North Sacramento’s Interstate 80 while outside lanes remain closed to make room for construction.
As part of the “Across the Top” project, the construction spans along a 10-mile stretch of the highway and has reconfigured the outside eastbound lanes in the Natomas, Del Paso Heights and Robla areas, cutting them down to one or sometimes two outer lanes.
The decision was made to suspend the state law requiring certain large trucks to stay in slower lanes after the outer part of the freeway became jammed with commercial trucks and local commuters while traffic moved freely in the inside express lanes.
On Wednesday, Caltrans spread the word to various trucking associations and drivers unions that they are allowing trucks to use the express lanes for now, and apparently drivers already got the message.
Sacramento Bee reporter Tony Bizjak checked out the freeway himself and said,” While we crept along in stop-and-go traffic in the outer lane, dozens of trucks in the express lanes whizzed by at normal 55-mph construction-zone freeway speeds.”
Drivers should note that due to the concrete dividers, vehicles traveling in the express lanes are blocked from off ramps between I-5 and Longview Drive.
“There are only two entrances to the express lanes. One is near West El Camino Avenue, which allows through traffic, such as weekenders between the Bay Area and Tahoe, to avoid the local traffic crunch. The other entrance is just west of Northgate Boulevard. That one’s a tight merge, though,” Bizjak reported.
The $133 million construction project, currently the largest in the region, includes the building of new carpool lanes, new exterior merge (or auxiliary) lanes, widened bridges and reconstructed main lanes.
Caltrans says to plan on the current lane configuration being in place for up to a year.