Delays Caltrans previously advertised as up to 30 minutes for traffic on Highway 41, as part of blasting operations for passing lanes near Road 208, caused many drivers frustration behind the wheel Thursday morning as they were stuck in their cars for more than an hour.
Caltrans spokesman Cory Burkarth said the extended delays, which began around 10 a.m., were due to a “massive” amount of rock being removed on the first day of blasting.
“The amount of rock that was impacted by the blast, and the removal process from that point on to clear the road is what caused the delay,” Burkarth said. “It wasn’t the blasting itself, it was this massive amount of rock being blasted that fell onto or near the roadway.”
Highway 41 was reopened around 2 p.m., but closed again at 2:50 p.m. for safety checks, Burkarth said. Burkarth said, after speaking with engineers on site, that the highway was reopened around 3:30 p.m., though traffic may take some additional time to pick back up.
Burkarth said the delays of up to 30 minutes, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday, remain in place despite those first-day hangups.
“We’re not yet going to adjust that timeframe, because we feel confident the contractor will be able to meet those times moving forward,” Burkarth said. “We do advise local traffic that knows the area to consider any alternate routes.”
Blasting operations are scheduled to last for about three weeks. On Monday, May 2, Burkarth said one blast is scheduled for 9 a.m., and motorists should expect delays of 20 to 30 minutes.
“Those delays could be longer depending on the amount of blasted rock that needs to be removed from the roadway,” Burkarth said.
Burkarth said the project is going to remove some 50,000 cubic yards of rock and other material from the area, roughly equivalent to covering 31 acres in soil at 1 foot of depth.
Along with the daytime delays, one-lane traffic controls during nighttime hours.
From 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. Monday through Friday, drivers can expect delays around 15 minutes. The controls begin about 0.3 miles north of Road 208, next to the 22 Mile House, and run 1.7 miles northward, the length of the passing lane project.
Alternate routes are available for both delay periods.
Northbound Highway 41 drivers can take a right turn onto Highway 145 and follow it along Road 211 until a left turn onto Road 200, which leads to Highway 41. Southbound drivers can follow the same route with a left turn onto Road 200, a right turn onto Road 211, and following it as it changes into Highway 145 back to Highway 41.
Teichert Construction of Sacramento’s $8.7 million bid was selected for the work over three competitors in July. Total project costs are $9.7 million. The project will add a passing lane in each direction along Highway 41.
Rocky Cut, where a rockslide closed Highway 41 in January, is outside the project area and will not be included in blasting operations, though Caltrans officials have said it is continually monitored.