SACRAMENTO - It may not be "Carmageddon," but confusion over the "Across the Top" construction along eastbound Interstate 80 has created significant delays for commuters, and this is only the second weekday of the new work.
Drivers are doing the best they can, but just east of El Camino Avenue is a critical point where they can take advantage of the express lanes. If they make it to the lane at its first entrance, it will make all the difference in the drivers' commute.
The catch is, once you commit to the express lanes, you won't be able to exit the freeway until Watt Avenue. So if you need to use any of the exits in between, you'll have to deal with delays that could add an extra 15 to 20 minutes to your trip.
Caltrans said if you need to get to those exits, you may be better off avoiding this section of I-80 and taking surface streets, especially during rush hour.
However, if you're going from west of El Camino Avenue all the way to Citrus Heights, Roseville or beyond, you should be in good shape using the interior lanes. There's also a second entrance to the express lanes at Northgate Boulevard.
And that's the main message Caltrans has for drivers as they adjust to the new changes. Over the past two days, Caltrans noticed that people don't seem to realize those inside lanes are for everyone.
"What's happening is that a number of the traveling public have been staying in the far right lane, which is really the only lane that they can use to hit those local surface street exits, and if they don't move over, then they're going to be stuck with a lot more traffic trying to get over to that side," Caltrans spokesperson Dennis Keaton said.
If this is part of your daily commute, you will want to start trying out the express lanes because work on the eastbound lanes will take another year to complete. The focus will then shift to the westbound lanes, and that work will take another year to complete.