Early-morning southbound Interstate 5 commuters should prepare for some delays in their commute due to some significant repairs underway.
Caltrans sent out an alert to advise motorists regarding overnight closures starting Monday night through Thursday night, and then again on Saturday night, between Vista Del Lago and Templin Highway, “for pavement work and roadway striping where a landslide occurred.”
The work on Interstate 5 to address severe landslides caused by weeks of heavy rains over the winter is likely to continue through the summer, according to an unofficial estimate.
Caltrans officials Monday, however, said the temporary closures slated for this week are meant to add capacity to the southbound side of Interstate 5, which has been reduced to two lanes after a landslide forced a partial closure of the road near the end of March.
“The work that is being done this week will allow crews to open an additional southbound lane,” said Mike Comeaux, spokesman for Caltrans. “And the way this will be done is the median area will receive some pavement enhancements, which will allow us to install lane striping to have a southbound lane in the median area.”
While that planned closure is subject to change if the weather or an additional traffic incident occurs, it’s scheduled to be completed by Saturday morning, he added.
The closures are scheduled overnight from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and then Saturday from 11:59 p.m. to 8 a.m., according to the Caltrans news release.
While the move is meant to add capacity and improve traffic flow, Comeaux acknowledged that, during the work, there would be impacts, and suggested motorists allow for what could be significant delays, if they’re planning to pass through that stretch of road right after it opens.
“When I-5 opens at 5 a.m., you’re going to have some people who have been waiting for it to open up — there’s going to be some pent-up demand on the north end — so it will require some patience as people are trying to get through soon after the southbound lanes open.”
Those who would like to or need to travel south during that time are suggested to avoid doing so, if possible, as the main detour available also adds a significant delay, with motorists being routed to Highway 138 near Hungry Valley State Park, which they would use to connect to Highway 14.
While Caltrans officials also noted there’s no official cause for delay on the northbound side, “lookie-loos” are always a concern and a potential hazard for other motorists, so caution is suggested on both sides.
“Motorists can check highway closures at QuickMap.dot.ca.gov or by calling 1-800-427-7623,” according to the release.
“And we really appreciate the patience and understanding and the flexibility of the public,” Comeaux said, “as our crews are working as quickly and as safely as posisble to repair all of the damage.”