Coronavirus project: Caltrans expected to start on $37 million highway project in SF this month instead of summer

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Now for some novel cornonavirus news that isn't. For once, the pandemic has presented an opportunity. At least, that's the way Caltrans is presenting it.

So, what once was new, does become old. And, if it belongs to Caltrans, then they try to make it new again, which brings us to the Alemany Boulevard overpasses in San Francisco.

Caltrans warned of "carmageddon" for a major summer construction project in the city.

But with the reduction in traffic due to the shelter-in-place order, workers will now get an early start on replacing 800-feet of bridge deck on Highway 101 near Interstate 280 in San Francisco.

RELATED: Caltrans begins last phase of 20-year Highway 101 project in Petaluma

A quarter of a million cars drive across every day. They have taken their toll. "Seventy. Seven decades it has been serving the public," said Bart Ney, Caltrans spokesperson.

How did COVID-19 present Caltrans with an opportunity?

It had planned 18 days for the $37 million dollar project beginning this July. Now, it wants to start as early as April 25.

The main job of replacing 800 feet of deck will require shutdowns, traffic shifting, delays, and automotive spillage into neighborhoods like San Bruno Avenue, which is already congested.

Local residents did not express much concern when they first learned about the project. "I mean we have a crumbling infrastructure here and we all understand improvements need to be made," said Lydia Patubo of the nearby Flowercraft Garden Center. "It's just the timeliness of it is going to hurt and there's nothing we can do about it right," she said.

RELATED: CalTrans: Avoid eastbound Highway 24 this weekend due to BART construction project

Even Caltrans admits that this necessary work is going to cause inconveniences.

But by moving the schedule up to a time when traffic flow is down 40 to 60 percent of normal during the pandemic. Caltrans says it won't be as bad as it would have been. "We believe we can cut the time and get it done before people go back to work," Ney said.

Which will mean working 24 hours, seven days a week until the work finishes.

Just follow the detours and don't speed, Caltrans said. Better to do the job now than later this summer when, if we're lucky, we'll see the roads return to their now seemingly blissful crawl.

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