Road work presents drivers with obstacles

Drivers making their way through San Mateo County — especially at night — may feel like they are driving through an obstacle course of highway construction, lane closures and detours.

The California Department of Transportation has three major projects under way on the Peninsula this summer and is planning a full closure of the Bay Bridge over Labor Day weekend to replace a football-field-sized section of the eastern span.

“We’ll be knocking out all the concrete and rolling in a brand new 6,500-ton section,” said Caltrans spokesman Bart Ney. “We’re very confident we’ll be able to do it in the three-day time-frame.”

Between Millbrae and Third avenues on U.S. Highway 101, Caltrans is adding a new entry-and-exit lane and reconstructing pedestrian bridges at Peninsula Avenue, Monte Diablo and Broadway, spokeswoman Gidget Navarro said. Construction on the $157 million project is expected to continue until spring 2011, primarily at night, with some complete freeway closures for pile-driving.

Farther south along 101, the highway is receiving a fresh coat of asphalt between Whipple Avenue and the Santa Clara County line, a nighttime project expected to last another month, Navarro said.

A five-mile stretch of El Camino Real between Burlingame and San Mateo is also being repaved in nightly sessions scheduled to end in mid-September.

On Highway 280, crews are rehabilitating ramps from John Daly Boulevard to Highway 92 through March 2008. Up to two lanes may be closed after 8 p.m. with three possibly closed after 11 p.m.

“Whenever there’s construction, even something that just narrows the lanes, there are going to be traffic impacts,” said John Goodwin, spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. “That’s why Caltrans does so much work at night — they get it.”

However, daytime drivers aren’t completely spared. Traffic was stop-and-go Tuesday and Wednesday mornings when crews closed one lane on southbound Highway 101 in South San Francisco to clear away brush.

For delivery companies, such as Peninsula-based Courier Plus, highway construction can call for some creative driving.

“The drivers all know back roads and frontage roads, and if things are going to affect our timing, we use alternate routes,” said Courier Plus manager Robert Monroe.

Current Caltrans highway projects

Highway 101 auxiliary lanes

» Where: Between Millbrae and Third avenues

» When: April 2007 through spring 2011

» Cost: $157 million

Highway 280 ramp rehabilitation

» Where: Between John Daly Boulevard and Highway 92

» When: February 2007 through March 2008

» Cost: $23 million

Highway 101 repaving

» Where: Whipple Avenue to Santa Clara County line

» When: July 2007 through September 2007

» Cost: $13 million

El Camino Real repaving

» Where: San Mateo to Burlingame

» When: Now through mid-September 2007

» Cost: N/A

Bay Bridge span replacement

» Where: East of Yerba Buena Island tunnel

» When: Labor Day weekend (full closure)

Highway 101 brush clearing

» Where: Near Army Street

» When: First week of September 2007

» Cost:$25,000

– Source: Caltrans

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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