The closure of part of Fair Lane slated to end by Dec. 21 has been extended to Jan. 8, the next meeting of Placerville City Council. The Council approved the extension of the closure at the Dec. 11 meeting.
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The closure to traffic of the portion of Fair Lane from just east of Vintage Transport and west of the Sheriff’s Office driveway is due to preparations for construction of Phase 1-A of the Western Placerville Interchanges Project. The project, estimated at a cost of $40 million, was approved as a comprehensive solution to existing and future operational issues on Highway 50 and the local road systems at Placerville Drive and Ray Lawyer Drive.
For funding purposes, the project was broken into several phases. Phase 1A, the only phase under construction, will realign Fair Lane, shifting it more northerly to make room for the construction of an on-ramp from Ray Lawyer Drive to westbound Highway 50. Improvements to the westbound Placerville Drive off-ramp are also part of 1A. Funding in the amount of $7.3 million has been allocated from the state Proposition 1B-Corridor Mobility Improvements Account (CMIA) and El Dorado County for this phase. Construction management of 1A is by Vali-Cooper Associates, with the construction contract going to Doug Veerkamp General Engineering.
As of Dec. 19, the retaining wall for the eastbound lane of Fair Lane has been constructed, said City Engineer Nate Stong. “They are waiting to backfill the retaining wall and are working on the underground utiliites and storm drains,” said Stong. “The crew works on Saturdays and is taking advantage of every break in the weather. They’ve been very diligent.”
The Fair Lane closure was proposed as a cost savings measure. Giving construction crews uninterrupted access would significantly reduce time to complete the project and increase safety, according to a staff report from Stong to the City Council. Cost savings were estimated at $66,000. The original six week closure was from Nov. 7 to Dec.21.
“The weather has been very wet and there is more wet, cold weather coming,” said Stong. “Six weeks of sunny or dry weather would have knocked this part of the project out, but we have to close it down when it’s raining or snowing.”
Businesses along Fair Lane are open and accessible, although county offices in the closure area must be accessed from Ray Lawyer Drive.
“The road closure is not helpful to business in the area,” said Stong. “The city is very cognizant of this.” He said the closure has actually reduced the number of complaints from the traveling public that he receives. “I received many more complaints when we had one lane open and people had to wait for 5-10 minutes to get through.”
The cost savings estimated by the road closure has not been affected, said Stong, since it was for traffic control and workdays. If the weather continues cold and wet, another extension may be in the offing.
Phase 1B of the Western Placerville Interchanges Project will straighten out the curve in Fair Lane and construct bike lanes and sidewalks. Phase 2 constructs improvements to Ray Lawyer Drive and Forni Road south of Highway 50, near the county jail. Other phases will construct a new Placerville Drive overcrossing.
Contact Wendy Schultz at 530-344-5069 or [email protected] Follow @WSchultzMtDemo.