The closure of the northbound lanes of Interstate 680 has caused a major backup in the East Bay Saturday. Drivers from Fremont through Sunol and Pleasanton heading north reported trips between 15 and 30 miles taking them more than two hours. Traffic through the Sunol grade and along the detours on Pleasanton Sunol Road inched along and at times came to a standstill.
The Interstate 680 northbound between Koopman Road and Sunol Boulevard is closed as Caltrans crews repave a three and a half mile stretch of the road.
This closure began on Friday night and is expected to last 55 hours: through Monday February 13 at 5:00 a.m. There are two more closures scheduled for the next two weekends, weather permitting.
Caltrans says its crews are making good progress so far, but the work comes with major delays and headaches for drivers.
While this closure happens, Caltrans recommends drivers travel northward from the South Bay to the East Bay by traveling along 880 to 238 to 580. The drivers who decide to stick it out driving along 680 northbound will be routed along detours through the two lane Pleasanton Sunol Road.
That road was congested with slow traffic for much of the day Saturday.
The Casa Bella venue in Sunol was hosting a wedding reception and said that the staff, the bride and groom and the guests were all hours late.
One of those wedding guests, Revathi Narayanan, said it took her around two hours to get to Sunol from Los Altos that day.
“We took 680, we believed Google maps which we probably shouldn’t have,” Narayanan said.
She also noted that she hadn’t heard about this closure until today.
“I wish they’d publicized it and put it up somewhere,” she said.
Caltrans has been posting and sharing messages about this closure, but some people Saturday said they hadn’t seen any of those messages.
At Sunol Corners Market, which sits at the intersection of detour traffic, staff had taped the advisory from Caltrans about the roadwork to the wall.
They knew the closures were coming, but workers were still surprised by how much business the detours brought.
“Right now we’re packed with the traffic,” said Maria Chaparro, who helps out at the store. Chaparro drove up from Stockton and said she’d lingered at the store longer because she was scared to drive home with all the cranky and aggressive drivers stuck in traffic.
“They want to run first, they want to go first, they don’t have no patience,” she said, pointing at cars honking at each other on the road.
Caltrans knows this closure brings a significant impact for drivers, but they also believe this 55-hour weekend closure is preferable to the alternative which would be 30 days of evening closures.
Pedro Quintana, a public affairs officer for Caltrans said that these changes are important to “to make sure we can get in here, fix this issue and bring this new roadway pavement and create a smoother ride.”
Caltrans brought NBC Bay Area up onto the closed roadway to see the work. Crews are addressing potholes and existing damage by replacing the roadway. They have completed installing new rebar on this 3.5 mile section and will be pouring concrete overnight Saturday into Sunday morning. Once the concrete is set, they will stripe the road.
Caltrans said this repaved road is designed to last longer and handle more wear and tear than the old road.
“If we can come in here for a weekend , get the job done, this definitely can be helpful for motorists for the long run,” Quintana said.
As of Saturday evening, Caltrans said its crews were on track to reopen the closed section of freeway by 5:00 a.m. Monday February 13.
Staff at the Casa Bella venue in Sunol said they are nervous for the weddings they have scheduled the next two weekends.
Caltrans is scheduled to have two more closures of northbound 680 those weekends as well if the weather cooperates.
- A closure of northbound 680 from Koopman Road to Sunol Boulevard is also scheduled for President’s Day weekend from Friday night, February 17 at 10 p.m. through 5 a.m. Tuesday morning, February 21 (four nights, three days). The closure will be rescheduled if it rains.
- A closure of northbound 680 from Sunol Boulevard and Bernal Avenue is scheduled for Friday night, February 24 at 10 p.m. through early Monday morning, February 27 at 5:00 a.m. (three nights, two days).
Southbound 680 will remain open during these closures.
This closure is part one of a long-term repaving project that will repair ten miles along 680 over the next 18 months. The project will be completed in parts, beginning in Sunol and eventually reaching San Ramon.
Source: NBC Bay Area
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