Groundbreaking for San Pablo Dam Road/I-80 interchange reconstruction set for Friday

Groundbreaking for San Pablo Dam Road/I-80 interchange reconstruction set for Friday

A groundbreaking ceremony on Friday is expected to usher in the first of two phases of the reconstruction of the San Pablo Dam Road/I-80 interchange.

The ceremony, presented by the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA), will take place at 10 a.m. at Riverside Elementary School, 1300 Amador St. in San Pablo.

The $118.8 million project, officials say, will reduce congestion and improve safety at the interchange as well as at adjacent interchanges at El Portal Drive and McBryde Avenue. The changes are also expected to enhance safety for pedestrians and bicyclists.

As explained in the video below, San Pablo Dam Road provides an important connection between State Route 24 and West County. Drivers use it as a shortcut to bypass the Caldecott Tunnel and the maze in Oakland. The roadway also provides vital access to I-80 for El Sobrante and San Pablo residents.

The 1950s era roadway can no longer handle the amount of traffic it sees. In the first phase of construction aimed at addressing these issues, expected to be completed in Spring 2017, a left turn lane will be added onto El Portal Drive. Also, the I-80 on-ramp at El Portal will be relocated north and the exit lane on westbound I-80 will be extended to enable smoother freeway merging.

To make room for the new onramp, a portion of El Portal Drive will be moved west. And after the westbound onramp is finished, the existing onramp will be removed. On the eastbound I-80 off-ramp at El Portal Drive, minor striping improvements will be done.

To the south of the interchange, a pedestrian overcrossing will be rebuilt just north of the existing structure. The pedestrian overpass won’t only cross the freeway but also Amador Street, creating a more direct and safer pathway for students and families attending Riverside Elementary.

During the project’s second phase, a new one-way connector road to McBryde Avenue will be built, including a bridge over Wildcat Creek, providing safer access to McBryde from westbound I-80 and eliminating the current “weaving problem” that exists, officials said. Right now, traffic entering westbound I-80 from San Pablo Dam Road conflicts with cars exiting at McBryde.

Also, the offramps and overcrossing at San Pablo Dam Road will be widened to have three lanes in each direction, 7-foot sidewalks and bike lanes on both sides. At a new intersection, left turns from San Pablo Dam Road will be allowed onto Amador Street.

Transportation officials say they’ve planned the construction in a way that will cause as little traffic disruption as possible.

The project is necessary, officials say, as future forecasts for the I-80/San Pablo Dam Road interchange predict even more congestion.