The project to bring toll express lanes to Interstate 680 through the San Ramon Valley is expected to start construction this month, with completion estimated for late next year.
"The beginning of work on the 680 express lanes between San Ramon and Walnut Creek is an important milestone," John Goodwin, spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) said Tuesday.
"It's the first Bay Area Express Lanes project to be undertaken by MTC ... and reflects our commitment to get more performance out of the Bay Area's existing freeway network, and existing carpool lanes in particular," he added.
The MTC aims to convert existing high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on I-680 between Alcosta Boulevard in San Ramon and Rudgear Road in southern Walnut Creek into express lanes that would charge tolls for access during peak commute times. The project does not include freeway widening.
The joint Bay Area Infrastructure Financing Authority (BAIFA) in late-June approved a contract worth a maximum $18.5 million with DeSilva Gates Construction LP to complete the lane conversions. The Dublin-based firm was issued a notice to proceed last Friday, Goodwin said.
"The issuance of the notice to proceed gives the contractor 20 days to send us a detailed construction schedule," he explained.
Agency officials anticipate work will begin this month and continue for the next 15 months, with opening currently slated for late 2016, according to Goodwin.
As proposed, the congestion-relief project would replace existing HOV lanes with express lanes on southbound I-680 from Rudgear Road to Alcosta Boulevard and on northbound I-680 from Alcosta to Livorna Road in Alamo -- approximately 23 miles overall.
The express lanes would be free to access for carpools, vanpools, public transit, motorcycles and eligible clean-air vehicles while other solo drivers could pay a toll to use the lanes. Toll lane hours and rates have not been finalized, Goodwin said.
Work by DeSilva Gates is set to include adding signage, overhead toll readers, camera equipment and polls, median barriers, roadside lighting and associated roadwork such as striping and paving. A total of 31 overhead sign structures are planned for medians through the I-680 corridor.
The contract awarded to DeSilva Gates on June 24 is worth about $16.3 million for construction, plus almost $2.2 million in contingency funding.
The San Ramon-Walnut Creek segment is the one of three MTC projects aimed at creating express lanes on I-680 most of the way up to the Benicia-Martinez Bridge.
The second project, planned for southbound I-680 by adding and converting lanes between the bridge and Rudgear Road, is scheduled for completion by 2018, according to the MTC.
Project 3, which remains unscheduled until funding is secured, would create northbound express lanes from North Main Street in Walnut Creek to the bridge coupled with operational improvements between North Main and Livorna, according to agency officials.
"The 680 Express Lanes project in Contra Costa County will be followed by similar projects along I-880 in Alameda County and I-80 through Fairfield; and later along other segments of 80, 680, 880 and the East Bay approaches to the Dumbarton, San Mateo-Hayward and Bay bridges," Goodwin said.