New I-80/680 interchange could mean changes on Highway 12, too
Take a ride through the interstates 80 and 680 interchange of the future, some $2 billion and who knows how many years from now. This is the interchange rebuilding option the Solano Transportation Authority recently endorsed to solve one of the region's most vexing, long-standing traffic bottlenecks. If the state adopts the STA's vision, here's what a coming generation of commuters will see as they cruise along a transformed landscape and reflect on the dramatic changes since 2010. Just as Angelo Rodriguez High School nears, a rebuilt section of I-680 swings west of its old alignment, cutting through an industrial park. Several buildings had to be demolished and 22 businesses relocated to make room. Then, near the spot where Highway 12 heads off into Jameson Canyon toward Napa, the new interstates 80 and 680 interchange looms, a half-mile west of the old location. In fact, this bigger-and-better interchange combines two old interchanges. It handles traffic coming to and from Interstates 680 and 80, but also traffic traversing between those freeways and Highway 12, a mass of rampways veering in different directions. Take one of these ramps and head west on I-80 past Costco and toward Fairfield. To the right is the old I-680 alignment leading to what had been the original interchange. That one-mile section of one-time freeway is now among the widest of Fairfield's city roads. And the old interchange that was adequate when built during the 1960s but counted among the county's most notorious traffic chokepoints a few decades later? It's gone, reduced to concrete rubble and hauled off in pieces. R.I.P. - and, no doubt in the minds of motorists who spent hours stuck in congestion there, good riddance. Continue along I-80 toward Fairfield and the changes keep coming. When the STA and state talked about replacing the interstates 80 and 680 interchange, they really referred to a series of projects extending miles beyond the interchange structure itself. Among them is widening this section of I-80. Instead of 12 lanes, with six going in each direction, there are a total of 19 lanes…. Whether this vision endorsed by the STA passes muster with the state Department of Transportation remains to be seen. The answer could come relatively quickly. The interstates 80 and 680 interchange renovation dream is poised to have a high public profile in coming months, now that Caltrans has released a draft environmental impact report. One option for rebuilding the interchange is the one endorsed by the STA that is described above, which involves moving the interchange a half-mile west on I-80. Another option is to rebuild the interchange at its present location. The STA rejected this latter alternative for a number of reasons, among them the difficulty of keeping traffic moving during construction….