Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Interchange Project Rolls Ahead With Council OK

Interchange Project Rolls Ahead With Council OK
By Barry Eberling

FAIRFIELD - The City Council on Tuesday paved the way for North Texas interchange renovations to start construction next spring.

It voted to enter an agreement with the state Department of Transportation for the $24 million project. Fairfield will provide the money and do the building and Caltrans will provide oversight, since the state owns the structure.

Councilmembers quickly approved the item by unanimous vote.

"It's been a long time coming," Vice-Mayor Jack Batson said.

Fairfield will widen the interchange at Interstate 80 to four lanes with shoulders, add a 9-foot-wide pedestrian path and build new eastbound onramps and offramps.

Drivers now heading southbound on North Texas Street from Rolling Hills cannot turn onto the eastbound I-80 onramp, since there is no turn lane. They must turn around further down North Texas Street and double back. That will change with the renovated interchange.

"That will be the single biggest change you'll see," Assistant Public Works Director Mike Duncan said. "You'll have full access."

The project will include 15-foot-tall white columns with the Fairfield logo near the interchange ramps.

Fairfield will also extend Manuel Campos Parkway so the road intersects with North Texas Street at the renovated interchange. Manuel Campos Parkway is ultimately to run all the way from I-80 to Peabody Road, providing a new route to the freeway for the northeast city. Much of the Manuel Campos Parkway is already built, but there are a few gaps.

The city will realign North Texas Street and Nelson Road near the interchange. That will create a dramatically different look, with a few businesses finding what is now the rear entrances to parking lots becoming the front entrances.

Renovating the interchange could take 18 months, with the project to be completed in summer 2009, a city report said.

The $24 million is coming from developer fees and the North Texas Street benefit district. Caltrans is not contributing. The agency wrote in a 2006 letter that it had no plans to renovate the interchange and that the project is being driven solely by the city's interests.

Duncan said $24 million is a top estimate, with a 20 percent contingency for the project.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646 Ext. 232 or at

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