Raise 80 Project Frustrating for Some Placer County Drivers

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There are point men and hydraulic lifts instead of point shoes and overhead lifts, but what will happen Wednesday night in Newcastle is choreography at its finest, nonetheless.

"You hear a horn go off, a hydraulic jack start to go. Construction workers are at each pillar yelling out three-fourths, three-fourths. Somebody's five-eights. Somebody's more. Somebody's less. And so that they keep track of everything and the guy that's in charge of the hydraulics will stop one in order to pull up another one," described Liza Whitmore of Caltrans District 3, Sierra Region.

The balancing act  Whitmore's talking about is the last of seven lifts planned for Interstate 80 in Placer County to accommodate a trucking industry that hasn't gotten too big for its britches -- it's gotten too big for the nation's bridges.

The latest target for change?

The Newcastle Road overcrossing.

"Nine overcrossings here in south Placer County were built back in the '50s and '60s when trucks were a lot smaller. However, the  federal government has said 'nope we need to raise all of them or increase the vertical clearance to the required 16-feet-6-inches," Whitmore said.

To make getting there from here easier for those big trucks, the 3,000,000 pounds of the Newcastle Road overcrossing will be lifted 18.5 inches starting Wednesday night and wrapping up Thursday night -- prompting road closures.

How much extra time on the road does that mean for some drivers?

"I  would say like 10 minutes on my commute," said Cami Hall.

Hall and everyone else in the region will benefit from the freer flow of goods, but with the overcrossing shut down for two weeks as the lifting and then reattachment of the span is complete, she's frustrated.

"It's actually put me quite out of my way, every day coming down and back and forth. I have to go all the way around through Auburn or all the way down through Penryn and every day people get confused by the light," she said.

Many drivers are trying to hold their distress in check until all of the Raise 80 project is cemented into place.

"I  just got an email today from somebody who said 'Great. I see all the signs out. Good luck tonight, '" said Whitmore.

Once raised, the higher overcrossing won't just help the trucking industry, it will also save wear and tear on local Placer County roads.

That's where trucks taller than the structure's current 15-foot clearance have been going.

Every hour $4.7 million worth of goods travels through Placer County on I-80.