Onramp work ahead of schedule

The Highway 4 onramp at Alhambra Avenue, Martinez, while construction was underway in September. The barriers have since been removed from the roadway, and the asphalt repaved and striped. (DONNA BETH WEILENMAN / Martinez)
The Highway 4 onramp at Alhambra Avenue, Martinez, while construction was underway in September. The barriers have since been removed from the roadway, and the asphalt repaved and striped. (DONNA BETH WEILENMAN / Martinez)
By DONNA BETH WEILENMAN
Martinez Tribune

MARTINEZ, Calif. – Martinez motorists and others who travel California Highway 4 have been noticing barriers, signs, closures, detours and equipment along access and exit ramps. Some who are ready for the work to be done have been asking, “Are we there yet?”

The answer to much of the construction is “Yes,” said John Goodwin, spokesperson for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. A project that is adding metering lights to Highway 4 ramps between Alhambra Way and Interstate-242 is on course to wrap up in mid-October, he said.
That puts the meter light project significantly ahead of schedule. Originally, the completion date was supposed to be in January 2016, so even if there are minor rain or other delays, the project should remain on course to beat its deadline, he said.

MTC calls is calling the project the Freeway Performance Initiative. The overall project is expected to cost $27 million. It’s designed to address congestion during peak commuting times. The meters are expected to increase the capacity of the highway by controlling the flow of vehicles entering the ramps.

Meters that are designed to adjust to traffic volume are planned for the eastbound on ramp at Alhambra Avenue and on ramps in both directions at Pine Street, Morello Avenue and Pacheco Boulevard. The ramps are being widened.

Improving Highway 4’s efficiency is also expected to help those who typically use surface streets and roads, because fewer people are expected to leave the highway to avoid its congestion.

Information from Contra Costa County indicated that even if a motorist is delayed in entering the highway by a metering light, the trip between Antioch to Alhambra Avenue could be cut by as much as 10 minutes.

“Ramp metering is ours,” Goodwin said. However, metering is just one segment of a multi-part project that includes deck overlay – the part of the job being handled by Caltrans and underwritten by the State Highway Operations and Protection Maintenance Program.

Caltrans has undertaken a hefty, 54-ramp project in Contra Costa County, and the north and south ramps on Alhambra Way and Pine Street are among those that are being resurfaced with a resin called methacrylate, Shannon Brinias, Caltrans public information officer, said.

The agency is also replacing joint seals on 54 bridge deckings throughout the county, too, including the East Highway 4/I-242 corridor, and South I-680 to West California Highway 24. Motorists traveling throughout the county are likely to encounter places where this resurfacing is underway, and Brinias asked them to slow down, observe slower construction zone speeds, and watch for construction workers.
In addition, an I-680/Highway 4 interchange is being reworked to increase its capacity and increase traffic safety in a $57 million Contra Costa Transportation Authority undertaking.

Those two highways are major connections in East Contra Costa County, with Highway 4 taking people east and west and I-680 connecting the South San Francisco Bay area with Solano County and beyond.

This is a multi-phase undertaking that includes a tri-level interchange, two-lane direct connector ramps for northbound to westbound traffic and east to south bound travelers.

Highway 4 will be widened from four to six lanes, and the loss of the eastbound lane west of Pacheco Boulevard will be corrected. Auxiliary lanes will be built near the interchange ramps on Highway 4 at Morello Avenue and Solano Way as well as on Pacheco Boulevard and Concord Avenue on I-680.

Those interested can follow the progress of that project on the Contra Costa Transportation Authority website, http://www.ccta.net/projects/project/50.

Meanwhile, Goodwin said the widening of the eastbound Morello Avenue ramp is done, but there’s more work to be done on Pacheco Boulevard. That work also should be completed in October, he said.

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