Four years later, it’s done – Trip to Reno no longer a cone zone |

Four years later, it’s done – Trip to Reno no longer a cone zone

After four years of work and $137 million, eastbound Interstate 80 motorists can enjoy a safer, quieter ride, and Caltrans officials say similar improvements are scheduled for the interstate around Donner Summit.

Caltrans announced completion Thursday of four interstate projects that stretch from Kingvale east to the Nevada state line. In all, 75 lane miles of the highway have been improved, including ramp, bridge, drainage and pavement work. State-of-the-art filters to boost water quality and three deer crossing points are some of the most innovative elements to the multi-year effort to enhance the critical roadway.

“It’s one of the most important routes in California,” said Caltrans District Director Jody Jones. “Over five million tourists visit the Reno/Lake Tahoe region every year.”

The I-80 pavement was overdue for a resurfacing, said Jones, and some of it actually dated back to the original materials used 40 years ago.

“The pavement had far exceeded its life expectancy,” said Jones.

The section from Boca to Floriston absorbed about 75 percent of the work, where six bridges were replaced or improved, and three deer crossings were added.

The deer crossings allow for deer migration below the roadway at points usually cut off by the interstate.

The drainage improvements are visible from the highway in what Caltrans Spokeswoman Leslie Case calls “pet rock prisons. ” The rocks enclosed in wire cages act as filters to the roadway runoff.

“This is the wave of the future as far as doing drainage and erosion control,” said Case.

Resurfacing the highway with rubberized asphalt should last three times as long as the usual concrete surface and provide a quieter drive, although the material is relatively untested in snowy environments.

“It’s a test for us,” said Jones. “The research tells us that it could last 10 years.”

I-80 projects in the area will continue, with the Donner Summit area entering Caltrans sights for three projects beginning in 2006. The concrete roadway will be resurfaced, and drainage will likely be a strong consideration in an area above Donner Lake.

“[Drainage] is even a bigger issue in those areas, so it takes special consideration,” said Caltrans Project Manager Dave Lopez. “When we’re all done I think we’ll have better water quality.”

Motorists can count on a continued focus on I-80 from Caltrans in the future, said Jones.

“We’re going to continue delivering projects on the I-80 corridor until the whole corridor is rehabilitated,” said Jones.

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