Construction equipment on the move muffles the sounds of Highway 50 traffic rushing by the Silva Valley interchange project as crews dig, spray and grade the area that will eventually become a brand new parkway.
“It’s going quite well,” said project engineer Aradhana Kochar with the El Dorado County Department of Transportation. “They’ve made quite a bit of progress over the last few weeks.”
Drivers have surely noticed the overpass abutment going up on the north side of the freeway, as well as work in the center divide and dirt moving on the south. Earlier this month drivers also encountered freeway closures as crews had to blast stubborn rocks out of the way. Those closures have ended but, Kochar noted, more blasting will likely be needed when crews are ready to build the interchange’s westbound offramp.
Contractor Myers and Sons Construction is the primary contractor on the job with Granite Construction crews doing a lot of the earthwork. Crews are using dirt from other road projects to infill where needed.
The project includes a new four-lane overcrossing over Highway 50, new on- and off-ramps with signalized intersections, and new bicycle and pedestrian facilities. A new Silva Valley Parkway will tie the interchange to White Rock Road (south side) and to the current Silva Valley Parkway (north side). Another major component of the project is shifting Tong Road, which currently runs parallel to the freeway on the south side of Capital Korean Presbyterian. Crews are moving the road to the north of the church. The entire project has a cost of nearly $30 million with funds coming from developer advances, the 2004 General Plan Silva Valley Interchange Set Aside Fund and a State and Local Partnership Program Grant. Project completion is expected some time in 2016.
Preserving the environment and history
Mindful of the mess a project of this magnitude can create, Kochar said crews have done a good job keeping dust to a minimum thanks to water trucks that douse the project area whenever needed. Though, she noted, this has led to some mud on the current Silva Valley Parkway.
What they haven’t found in all that dust, dirt and rock is asbestos, Kochar said. The substance is prevalent in some areas of El Dorado Hills but pre-contrction boring holes turned up nothing in the project area.
Crews did have to remove 140 large and small trees to make room for the interchange and new roadways. The interchange project’s oak woodland mitigation plan requires a two-to-one replanting ratio. Crews are also preserving the two creeks that run through the construction zone — Carson Creek and Bucks Ravine Creek. Where they’re grading for the new Tong Road and will eventually build the westbound offramp, Carson Creek has been diverted into a precast culvert so as not to contaminate the water.
Some areas are also marked as archaeological monitoring areas as the project is very close to the historical town of Clarksville south of the freeway. “When we’re in those areas we have an archaeologist who comes out,” Kochar explained. So far no artifacts have been found.
Coming this summer
“We don’t affect traffic much,” Kochar said.
Drivers will see significant progress on the new Silva Valley Parkway to the east and Tong Road on the north side. Crews will also continue working on the over crossing and building culverts for the new road and these projects will require some lane closures on Silva Valley.
At the end of June (at the earliest) crews may also need to close some or all freeway lanes to erect the overpass’ falsework.
“It’s a huge change,” Kochar said of the project, which has been part of the county’s road program for about 25 years. The new interchange will alleviate congestion on El Dorado Hills Boulevard and Bass Lake Road.
For more information about the project, as well as updates, visit www.edcgov.us/SilvaValley.aspx.