The I-5 fix: It’s all a matter of timing

The Interstate 5 renovation project is set to officially get under way May 30, but the full impact on an estimated 190,000 daily motorists probably won’t be felt until a few days later—after the Memorial Day holiday.

The point of the project is to restore about three-fourths of a mile of I-5 west of downtown that Caltrans officials call “the boat section.” Initial estimates say the project will take six to seven weeks. The core area is on I-5 between Capitol City Freeway/U.S. Highway 50 on the south and Richards Boulevard on the north.

Not all routes will be closed all the time. Instead, there will be a staggered series of closures throughout the construction period. A calendar of closures is available in this week’s Capitol Weekly, as well as at

All northbound lanes of I-5 will be closed from 8 p.m. on May 30 through 5 a.m. on June 9. All lanes will be open until 8 p.m. on Friday, June 13, at which time all the southbound lanes will be closed through 5 a.m. on June 23. All lanes will be open briefly, until 8 p.m. Thursday, June 26, but then all the northbound lanes will be closed until 5 a.m. on July 3.

In the final stage, all lanes will be open from July 3 through 8 p.m. on July 8, when the southbound lanes will be closed through 5 a.m. on July 15.  After July 15, all lanes will be open.

The contractor is C. C. Myers Inc. of Rancho Cordova, who played a major role in rebuilding the Santa Monica Freeway after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake.

The plan, which calls for replacing the freeway’s pavement and renovating the substructure, entails  significant lane- and ramp-restrictions on I-5 in downtown Sacramento. After curing, lane and ramp restrictions of one week will also take place to allow time for the contractor to apply a polyester sealant. This plan would allow the contractor to finish work months ahead of schedule. Caltrans is working with the contractor on the details of that plan.

“Innovative plans like this have worked to perform rapid repairs of the MacArthur Maze in the Bay Area and the Golden State Freeway’s truck tunnel in Southern California,” Caltrans Director Will Kempton said earlier.  “During both projects we reached out to the public and got the word out. This outreach served to reduced traffic backups and helped people get to where they needed to go.”

The public can get the latest project information by visiting, which features live traffic cameras, links to ridesharing and transit resources, answers to frequently asked questions, and historic photos. The public can also sign up for e-mail alerts to receive the latest information about construction and lane closures.

Truckers have their own web page where they can get alternate route information. Another web page will feature specials by local businesses, called “Sacramento is open for business.”

The “Boat Section” was constructed below the water level of the nearby Sacramento River. As one of the last portions of Interstate 5 to be constructed, it was named back when it had to be drained in the late 1960’s. Over the years, sand and silt have created blockages in the drainage system. Those blockages, which force water to the surface, have led to cracks and pavement deterioration. This critical project will repair that drainage system and replace the pavement.

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