End in Sight for Years-Long Road Construction Project Along Hazel Avenue

FAIR OAKS -- A construction zone in Sacramento County has been infuriating drivers for years, but the county says it's in the home stretch and is asking drivers to remain patient.

Hazel Avenue has become a street many drivers dread taking.

"I try to avoid going south because all the lanes are usually blocked," said one driver named Roger.

For the last several years, Sacramento County has been working to widen Hazel Avenue, between Highway 50 and Madison Avenue, from four to six lanes.

The work has been slowing commuters every day.

"Saturday I was coming home from work, I'm gridlocked on the bridge because they've got everything blocked down to one lane," Roger said.

The project started back in 2011. Phase 1 focused on widening Hazel Avenue between Highway 50 to Curragh Downs Drive in Fair Oaks. Now, six years later, we're on Phase 2 -- Hazel Avenue between Curragh Downs Drive and Sunset Avenue.

"This past weekend was a big milestone for the project getting the first lower lifts of asphalt concrete down and also the widening between Curragh Downs Drive and La Serena," said Steven White, principal civil engineer with the Sacramento County Department of Transportation.

The department says if the weather stays dry enough this weekend, it's going to complete most of the rest of the paving. Although officials admit the project has gotten off schedule -- a delay caused by last winter's heavy rains.

"And we just frankly didn't get a whole lot down with all the rains last year. We did our best to work in between the rain drops," White said.

"I think that their contractors are dragging their feet is what I think," Roger said.

While most drivers are complaining about the construction crews, one person who is not is Ernie Heaps.

"They bent over backwards for me," Heaps said.

Heaps' house faces Hazel Avenue and he says the county built him a wall, allowing him to keep it shorter than his neighbors', who preferred a high sound wall.

"That's a jail," Heaps said. "This is not, I can see out, people can see in."

The county is estimating the project will now wrap up in June. In the meantime, Heaps believes drivers should expect to spend a little extra time in traffic, and they should try to stay calm driving down Hazel.

"You might as well be because you know if you just complain ... it doesn't do any good," Heaps said.

The county also wants people to know that early stages of the project had them putting in new utility lines underground, so just because drivers didn't see progress being made, doesn't mean work wasn't happening.