(FOX40.COM) — Driving through U.S Highway 50 while it’s under construction has been a nightmare for many commuters and some want to know when the project will finally be finished.
“It’s horrific. I live in Rancho and have no choice but to take 50 since I work at UC Davis Med Center,” said local resident Nicki Fairbanks. “People are too busy rushing to merge appropriately, and there are far more accidents. It’s taking too long.”
The estimated $471.2 million reconstruction of Highway 50 is known as the “Fix50 Highway Enhancement Project,” and kicked off in November of 2020. Construction began on Highway 50 near Interstate 5 and is expected to end .08 miles east of Watt Avenue, according to official project plans released by the California Department of Transportation (DOT).
Although it began nearly three years ago, DOT reported that as of October 2023, the project is 76% completed. Construction includes new high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes (carpool lanes) in each direction on US-50 from the Interstate 5 interchange to Watt Avenue, widening connector ramps, increasing vertical clearance at over crossings, replacing freeway pavement with continuously reinforced concrete pavement, and more.
Positive changes are expected to come to Highway 50 but some commuters worry about a negative impact on driver safety as roads close or become split during the construction.
“I pray each time I approach 50. I take it when traveling to the Bay Area” said Sacramento resident Sheila Proctor. “The lane change and split cause confusion and oftentimes cars will abruptly cut you off trying to correct themselves. I don’t take my eyes off the road, not even if my phone rings. A second or two from looking away can cause a mishap. Once I get on 80, I can breathe.”
Some residents say they have gotten into accidents since the start of the Fix50 Highway Enhancement Project.
“I lived in Sacramento for years and I can honestly say 50 is probably one of the worst highways to drive,” said Rick Pérez. “I’ve had a lot of close calls and now with all the construction, it makes it a lot worse.”
Pérez said that in July 2023 he was run off Highway 50 with his fiancé, and three -year-old son in the vehicle. It was his first and only accident.
“It’s a hot mess,” said Miranda Timmons who commutes regularly on the highway. “It used to be a 10-15 min drive. Now it’s taking 30-45.”
The speed limit in the construction work zone on Highway 50 is 55 MPH and the California Highway Patrol monitors the area 24 hours a day, seven days a week according to the Fix50 Highway Enhancement Project website. The general work schedule (subject to change) is from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. for day work and from 8 p.m. to 5 p.m. for night work.
Some commuters say they stopped using Highway 50 altogether.
“I hate 50 enough that I moved from Rancho to Natomas so I wouldn’t have to deal with the commute and traffic nightmare anymore,” said Sacramento resident Sara Sterner. She said that she received “two huge cracks” in her windshield while commuting.
“I was commuting from 50 and Mather to Natomas every day,” Sterner said. “I got both cracks from the phases of the resurfacing, the first crack came a couple of days after they started roughing up the road at Bradshaw, and the second came a week later near the 65th exit.”
The construction of Highway 50 has reportedly caused some challenges for commuters, but some are still hopeful.
“It’s easy to complain about it. I’m not going to do that. I am thankful for the workers doing their jobs the best they can,” said Sacramento resident Mike Roberts. “Yes, it gets congested and frustrating. I’m on it 8 to 10 times a day, from Elk Grove to the port. My complaint is to the inconsiderate drivers. You put the lives of these workers at risk. Also everyone around you. For you workers, thank you. I believe they are doing the best they can.”