Evaluation of Alternative Construction Plans for the I-5 Closure in Downtown Sacramento
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Evaluation of Alternative Construction Plans for the I-5 Closure in Downtown Sacramento

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      In the next decade many of the busy urban freeways will be undergoing major repairs. In the past, routine repairs were often carried out over night hours, or weekends, but this may no longer be feasible because the pavement of many of these urban arteries has exceed their design life and needs major reconstruction. Construction work during commuting hours could be quite common in the years to come. Both Caltrans and the traveling public want to know how different types of closures affect traffic and the environment, and how to cope with such closures. Three construction plans for Fix I-5, a 36-day directional closure plan, a 110-day A+B plan, and a 195- day lane closure plan1 were evaluated for their traffic and environmental impact using a state-of-the-art dynamic work zone traffic analysis tool, NetZone, and extensive traffic data collected in a related previous project. It was found that the directional closure plan did not significantly increase the daily peak delay than the other two lane closure plans in the Fix I-5 case, because drivers made good use of ample alternative routes in the area. Furthermore, all three plans produced slightly higher/lower emissions (<2%) for most pollutant types and consumed slightly more/less fuel (<2%) on a daily basis as compared with the base scenario (i.e., no construction). Considered for the whole project duration, the 36-day directional closure plan is more preferable because the total delay cost was 80% less than the traditional 195-day plan, $21M compared to $109M. The A+B plan is still preferable to the 195-day plan with more than 50% less total delay cost than the 195-day plan, $47.5M compared to $109M. However, it should be cautioned that directional closure should be used only when there is reasonable number of alternative routes to divert traffic to.
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