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Major Changes Coming to Watt Avenue at U.S. Highway 50

Project will be a model for others to use when faced with challenge of moving all types of transportation, official says.

A major overhaul of the Watt Avenue at U.S. Highway 50 interchange is set to start this week, a project that will ultimately improve transportation for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians, officials say.

The $22.5 million project – awarded to O.C. Jones & Sons General Engineering Contractors – will include the following improvements, according to the Sacramento County Department of Transportation:

  • "Widening the existing Watt Avenue overcrossing at U.S. 50 to add 1) two more through lanes and two auxiliary lanes over the freeway, 2) additional carpool lanes to the freeway on-ramps, and 3) widen and realign freeway off-ramps to terminate at Watt Avenue at two signalized intersections.

  • Add a new, dedicated Bus Rapid Transit lane on Watt Avenue from north of the interchange to the existing Manlove Light Rail Station.

  • Construct a new center structure connecting the existing northbound and southbound U.S. 50 overpasses.

  • Add a continuous bicycle/pedestrian pathway, separated from vehicular traffic, along the east side of Watt Avenue between La Riviera Drive and Manlove Road, with grade separated undercrossings at the freeway ramps."

“When completed, this project will be a model for other jurisdictions to use when faced with the difficult challenge of moving all modes of transportation through an interchange, which in the past have been designed with an emphasis on motor vehicles," said Mike Penrose, Sacramento County DOT director. "This project has multi-modal design features that set it apart from any other interchange in California and includes: a continuous bicycle/pedestrian pathway separated from vehicular traffic that goes through the entire interchange; and the first dedicated Bus Rapid Transit facility of its type in the state. The added safety and congestion relief provided by the project will be appreciated by all travelers through the corridor.”

A groundbreaking event to celebrate the construction start-up will be held Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. in Rosemont, at 8880 Cal Center Drive. Speakers will include county supervisors Phil Serna (District 1), Susan Peters (District 3), Don Nottoli (District 5), Caltrans Project Manager John Holder, Regional Transit General Manager/CEO Mike Wiley, and Sacramento County DOT Director Mike Penrose. 

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