Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Highway 12 finally getting barrier

Excerpted from Daily Republic (Subscription required)

By Barry Eberling

FAIRFIELD - The 5.5-mile section of Highway 12 between Suisun City and Lambie Road will be getting a concrete median barrier over coming weeks in an attempt to prevent head-on collisions.

Work is to start tonight and could last until Sept. 9. The state Department of Transportation will close one lane of the two-lane, rural highway between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m. Workers with flags will let one direction of vehicles go at a time.

"We're expecting to have delays of about five minutes," Caltrans spokesman Keith Wayne said Tuesday.

Accidents have plagued the 16-mile stretch of highway between Suisun City and Rio Vista. Eight people died in car wrecks in little more than a year. Local lobbying prompted Caltrans in March to announce steps to make the highway safer.

The state double-striped the highway to make passing illegal, but installing a concrete median barrier - a step advocated by local transportation leaders - proved trickier.

Parts of Highway 12 are too narrow for a concrete barrier, Caltrans Director Will Kempton said at a March 26 press conference along the highway. The state instead decided to put a concrete barrier on the wider 5.5-mile stretch near Suisun City and flexible, plastic median posts along the remainder.

The concrete barrier won't be the permanent type that the state added to Highway 12 in Fairfield or Interstate 80 near Cordelia. Rather, it will be the K-rail temporary barrier often seen near highway construction sites. Workers are to bolt it to the highway.

K-rail is narrower and will fit inside the existing median, Wayne said. Putting in a regular concrete barrier would mean having to buy more land and cause further delays, he said.

Caltrans has already put in flexible median posts on Highway 12 in western Rio Vista.

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