The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) on Oct. 18 announced the beginning of their $158 million project that will replace Highway 99’s Cosumnes River bridges south of Elk Grove.  They held their groundbreaking ceremony near Lent Ranch and Highway 99 in south Elk Grove.

Officials cited the need to serve a growing population and to replace aging infrastructure that dates back to the 1940s. Plans are to begin construction next summer and to complete the project by 2024.

Amarjeet Benipal, an Elk Grove resident who serves as director of Caltrans District 3, mentioned that Highway 99’s northbound lanes and Cosumnes River bridge were installed after World War II ended.

“Here we are finally going to be addressing the needs and hopefully we are not counting on World War III at this point,” he joked.

Under this project, Caltrans will replace the Cosumnes River bridges and the Cosumner River Overflow bridges that lie south of the Emerald Lakes Golf Course.

They will replace Highway 99’s southbound McConnell underpass and the northbound McConnell structure with a single structure that includes both northbound and southbound lanes. Caltrans also plans to renovate the Dillard Road overcrossing.

Dennis Keaton, a Caltrans spokesperson, said that Highway 99’s Eschinger Road on and off-ramps will be closed while they’re being rebuilt.

“They will be temporarily closed for an extended period, two to two-and a-half years, but will be rebuilt to access the new alignment,” he told the Citizen about the rural road.

Sacramento County Supervisor Nottoli, who represents south Sacramento County, stressed the importance of Eschinger Road to local farmers and ranchers.

“The ability to move our farm products and attend to the needs of our daily agricultural pursuits is very important,” he said in his speech at the groundbreaking ceremony. “Eschinger Road serves that purpose.”

Keaton said that most of the construction work will be performed at night and that daytime traffic will be narrowed to two lanes in each direction. Nighttime traffic could be limited to one lane in each direction, he said.

Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly joined the project’s groundbreaking ceremony.  

“As with any largescale project, there will be growing pains and occasional disruption in traffic,” Ly said. “But the payoffs and benefits to our community are immeasurable.”

The Cosumnes River bridges project budget includes $18 million in funds secured via the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017. Benipal noted that the project’s timeline was moved up by one year since the construction contractors were involved in the design process.