City, Commuters Mostly Adjusting Well to I-5 Closure

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, June 6, 2008

By: Ben Adler and Steve Milne

Ed. note: The Northbound I-5 closure is scheduled to end in time for the Monday morning commute; the Southbound closure will start a week from Friday at 8pm.
If you ask the Sacramento Department of Transportation, everything is going great.  Here’s spokeswoman Linda Tucker.
Tucker: “People have flexed their schedules or changed their plan, their mode of operation, how they’re accessing downtown.” 
Tucker says there were some snafus early in the week – like traffic backing up on 16th Street in midtown, or drivers exiting Northbound 5 unnecessarily early and getting stuck on Freeport Boulevard.  But Tucker says the city’s adjusted well, and thinks it’ll likely be smooth sailing – er, driving – from here on out.
Tucker: “Friday is usually a light traffic day, so we don’t anticipate any problems through the last few days of the northbound closure, and then we’ll turn it around in a week or so and get ready for southbound.” 
Tucker says drivers can still use the L and I Street onramps to Northbound 5.  The Q Street offramp from Northbound 5 into downtown is open as well.

How about commuters?

For commuters the I-5 closure is more of a mixed bag.
At the K Street Mall people were coping in different ways – including … losing sleep?
Dahl: “Oh definitely. I don’t like waking up an hour earlier to get to work.”
Shirley Dahl works for the state Department of Finance. She’s joined a carpool and says even though she misses that extra hour of sleep, leaving early has its benefits.
Dahl: “We take Riverside which is usually a little backed up anyways but since we get here so early, it’s not so bad.”
Another early riser is Chris Klima, who’s walking along with his 10 speed bike. Klima says he catches an early light rail train near Tahoe Park to get to his job at the Department of Water Resources. 
Klima: “I get on the six o’clock train and I take my bike on there, there’s plenty of seats. Two trains after me, it’s packed.”
Larry Emil also works downtown. During his commute home on Tuesday he got caught in that big traffic tie up on 16th Street. So what’d he think of the 20 minutes it took to crawl through just a few city blocks?
Emil: “Not fun.”
But Emil credits city traffic officials with fixing that problem the next day.
Emil: “They blocked traffic coming off of Richards onto 160 and so it wasn’t problem. It sped it up so it probably only held me an extra five minutes – so not too shabby.”
And state employee Ali Hayat Tavuli says for the first time, he’s keeping his car at home in Folsom.
Hayat Tavuli: I used to drive to work every day and now I’m taking light rail. It’s my first week really taking the trains. I just don’t want to deal with any of the traffic.
And Hayat Tavuli says so far so good. He may just decide to keep taking light rail – even after the I-5 work is done.