I-80 re-paving planned for ’07: Project will cost $125 million for first two phases of work | TahoeDailyTribune.com

I-80 re-paving planned for ’07: Project will cost $125 million for first two phases of work

David Bunker

TRUCKEE – Beginning in 2007, Caltrans plans to re-pave the furrowed, bumpy lanes of Interstate 80 that climb over Donner Summit.

The first segment of the state transportation agency’s plans, a total of $65 million of work, would re-pave the eastbound lanes from where Trout Creek passes under the interstate in town to the Donner Lake Interchange. Westbound lanes from the eastern side of Donner Lake to Trout Creek would also be revamped.

Construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2007, pending funding availability, according to Caltrans officials.

Along with adding a foot of concrete surfacing over the existing roadway, Caltrans expects to spend millions on updating or adding water filtration systems and culverts for highway runoff.

“Some of you may know that this I-80 segment as you know it is over 40 years old,” Dave Lopez, Caltrans project manager for the Truckee area, said at a Truckee Town Council meeting last week.

A second phase of work would refurbish the highway from the Castle Peak rest area to the Soda Springs exit. Construction for that $60 million phase is also planned for 2007.

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The third and final phase of work, which will connect the Donner Lake Interchange to the Castle Peak Rest Area, has no projected start date or cost estimate, according to Caltrans.

Agency officials said they will not divert interstate traffic onto local streets during construction, and plan to work only during the week to keep traffic moving.

Lopez said the work on culverts, the placement of 218 sand traps, 94 sand vaults and three water treatment basins, equates to a huge investment in water quality.

The water protection measures will cost $7.2 million in the first segment alone, said Lopez. The state also plans to rehabilitate a wetland area where the interstate skirts Donner Memorial State Park.

“We realize (water quality) is a focus issue for this area,” said Lopez.

Donner drainage

Despite Caltrans’ promises to improve water quality, Donner Lake homeowners are disappointed the projects do not include a solution to perpetual drainage problems that affect homes on the north side of Donner Lake.

“If you are fixing the uphill and not fixing the downhill, you are just promulgating existing problems,” said Emilie Kashtan, a Donner Lake property owner.

Kashtan said she has observed a “profound increase in sand in the creeks” this year.

While Caltrans said the interstate projects will not include any work past the state’s right-of-way, agency spokeswoman Shelly Chernicki said a Caltrans hydrologist plans to investigate the drainage issues between the interstate and Donner Lake this spring.

“That is something we are going to try to really delve into and determine,” said Chernicki. “Obviously property owners have issues and we don’t want to be a contributing factor (to the drainage problems).”

Kashtan, who says the drainage system that Caltrans set up when the interstate was built was inadequate, hopes a solution comes soon.

“Filtering only at I-80 while erosion continues downhill into the creeks and Donner Lake, is not fixing the problem,” she wrote in a letter to the Truckee Town Council.