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Solano County express lanes project seeks to reduce congestion on I-80

Additionally, Caltrans hopes the lanes will encourage people to carpool or use public transit.

SOLANO COUNTY, Calif. — You might have noticed construction on I-80 in Solano County between Sacramento and the Bay Area. It’s all part of a project Caltrans and the Solano County Transportation Authority are working on to create 18 miles of express lanes on the east and west sides of I-80 in the Vacaville-Fairfield corridor.

According to Caltrans, traffic in the area will increase 1/3 by 2040. One of the busiest spots within the corridor is Air Base Parkway, and about 215,000 vehicles travel through there every day.

According to Caltrans District 4 spokesperson Pedro Quintana, the express lanes will help alleviate congestion on I-80 often seen during commutes in Solano County. This stretch of Interstate 80 hasn’t seen any road widening since the 1970s.

“We’re constructing brand-new express lanes in the city of Vacaville starting at Leisure Town Road, that's on the eastbound side of I-80. Then, we’ll switch over later this year to the westbound side on Red Top Road in the city of Fairfield where we’ll convert those HOV lanes to express lanes,” said Quintana.

Credit: Caltrans

Caltrans hopes the lanes will encourage people to carpool or use public transit.  

“Solano County is seeing that housing boom, that economic boom and many people are traveling through this I-80 corridor. Remember this is the I-80 freight corridor as well, so we see a lot of trucks through this area,” said Quintana. “What we have seen is that express lanes work and that there's an increase in traffic along this I-80 corridor in Solano County.”

Quintana says many trucks bringing goods from Oakland use the corridor to travel from Solano County into Sacramento, contributing to the high volume of vehicles. He says the express lanes won’t just help truckers, but allow an additional lane for emergency responders and firefighters to respond more quickly to emergencies.

A spokesperson with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission says qualifying carpoolers should be able to use the express lane for free. The number of people making a carpool hasn't been set yet, it could be two or three. People driving alone would pay a toll, but anyone in the lane would have to have a FasTrak tag. 

Pricing hasn't been set either, but MTC says there’s typically a minimum 50 cent toll per zone and costs can fluctuate based on demand which they call ‘dynamic tolling.’

The project is set to be finished in spring 2025. Over half the funding for the $244 million project comes from SB 1 funds.

Caltrans and California Highway Patrol held an enforcement campaign a couple of weeks ago in the construction zone, and CHP cited around 70 people for speeding in the project area, including truckers.

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