A California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) project manager for the current, $370 million Interstate 5 (I-5) Corridor Enhancement Project, told the Citizen that the project could be completed earlier than previously announced.

“We have a closeout of the project scheduled for December of 2022, but the contractors’ schedule shows them finishing in late summer, early fall (of 2022),” said Jess Avila, Caltrans project manager. “So, hopefully, they’ll beat that (December 2022 completion date).”

This 13-mile project, which includes the stretch of I-5 that runs through Elk Grove, is designed to enhance this freeway from about a mile south of Elk Grove Boulevard to Richards Boulevard in Sacramento.

Senate Bill 1 – aka “The Gas Tax” – is providing $48 million in funding for the project, which is designed to relieve congestion through improvements to the north and southbound lanes.

Other funding for the project includes $280 million from the State Highway Operation and Protection Program, $33 million from the Sacramento Transportation Authority’s Measure A funds, and $8.5 million from the Sacramento Area Council of Governments.

This project, which began six months ago, features the rehabilitation of existing pavement, the construction of new carpool lanes, ramp meters and sound walls, the installation of new fiber-optic lines, and the extension of various entrance and exit ramps.

The Citizen attended an informational presentation on the project in Sacramento on Jan. 30.

Attendees of the meeting were informed about the necessity of improving this portion of I-5, which has 44-year-old pavement. The pavement has deteriorated throughout the years and has inferior driving surfaces.

Caltrans spokesperson Dennis Keaton emphasized the poor condition of the pavement, noting that it has “just taken a beating over the last 25 to 35 years.”

On average, 150,000 vehicles, including about 15,000 trucks, utilize this corridor on a daily basis.

An informational sheet produced by Caltrans describes some of the benefits of the project as relieving congestion with ride-sharing options through the use of high-occupancy vehicles (HOV), and improving access for carpools, vanpools and express bus services during peak-period travel.

With future suburban development, the duration of congestion is expected to increase in the future in Elk Grove and Sacramento.

HOV lanes will be added to the project from Elk Grove Boulevard to Sutterville Road in Sacramento. Keaton explained the importance of adding auxiliary lanes along I-5, between Elk Grove and Laguna boulevards.

“We anticipate that when you have auxiliary lanes on both directions, southbound and northbound, you’re allowing traffic to move over and exit sooner, so they’re not necessarily backing up traffic on the main line,” he said. “So, that’s what we see as being a real plus for Elk Grove, because you’re going to allow people to be able to make those exits sooner, rather than being backed up.”

Keaton added that a portion of the project – non-traffic altering electrical work – was completed in Elk Grove about three or four months ago.