Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tour of I-80 corridor touts upgrades

Tour of I-80 corridor touts upgrades
By Robin Miller
Article Launched: 08/27/2008

Caltrans Director Will Kempton (center) speaks about the progress of the Pave-80 project Tuesday in Vacaville. (Rick Roach / The Reporter)

Transportation officials from across the region and the state were in Solano County on Tuesday to tout work being done to improve the Interstate 80 corridor from the Bay Area to the Nevada border.

Dubbed the "Bay to Border Tour," a bus carrying Caltrans Director Will Kempton and other dignitaries made stops in Vallejo, Fairfield and Vacaville to discuss work already completed and plans for future projects.

"Interstate 80 is the major east-west corridor in Northern California and we will be investing $1 billion in it," Kempton said. "Anyone who drives this corridor can tell you the condition it's in and the need for the work."

The funds for the work will come from voter-approved Proposition 1B bonds, Kempton said. Approved by voters in 2006, Prop. 1B provides for billions of dollars for transportation projects up and down the state. Some of the first of those funds are providing for dozens of projects in the Bay Area and Kempton said there will be even more coming in the future.

Paving projects are planned at sites throughout the corridor, he noted, including in Vacaville, where some of the paving work has already been completed. Kempton noted the improvement, explaining that at an earlier press stop in Fairfield, he had to yell to be heard over the noise of I-80 traffic there, where repaving hasn't yet been completed.

Lois Wolk, D-Solano, was also on hand, noting that I-80 is the most heavily traveled roadway in the region.

"I drive this road every day and I want to tell you it makes such a difference," she said of the paving work. Urging voters to be patient with construction, she added "in the end it will make an extraordinary difference in our lives."

Vacaville Vice Mayor Chuck Dimmick thanked the state leaders as well as local Solano Transportation Authority officials, saying "What you are doing is huge" and noting the work done on the Leisure Town overcrossing as an example.

"The landscaping isn't done yet, but I think it's one of the prettiest ones going," he said.

Earlier, the officials made stops in Vallejo and Fairfield to discuss work planned there including improvements to the Interstate 80/I-680 and Highway 12 interchange, pavement improvements in American Canyon and Green Valley, relocation of the truck scales in Cordelia, and improvements at the interchanges of I-80 and North Texas as well as I-80 and Lagoon Valley Road.

Wolk said she is hopeful that as work is completed and voters see the improvements, there will be even more support for future projects and funding.

"There is tremendous concern for transportation, it is the largest bond passed and it's the largest need," she noted.