Sunday, 25 February 2024

Caltrans plans repaving project on collision-prone stretch of Highway 20

WALKER RIDGE – A stretch of highway that has witnessed a series of vehicle collisions over the last few years will be the focus of a new paving project, Caltrans said Monday.


Caltrans said it's expediting a safety project on a half-mile-long stretch of Highway 20 east of Walker Ridge Road, located between Clearlake Oaks and the Colusa County line.


The project is in response to an increased number of collisions that have occurred on the downhill curve. Officials said the goal is a better, safer highway.


“This is just going to construction,” said Caltrans spokesman Phil Frisbie.


The project will take place in the area of mile post marker 44.19, located across the highway from the location of the now-mitigated Abbott and Turkey Run mines.


As Lake County News first reported in March, the area had been the site of several crashes in the last two years. By June 15 there had been seven collision in the area, at least two of which – including a March crash – have been fatal.


The California Highway Patrol has maintained that speed was the primary cause in all of the collisions, and all but one happened on wet or icy pavement.


But earlier this year, defense attorney Angela Carter told Lake County News that part of the problem was the roadway itself. Carter's firm is defending Suisun City resident Debra Curtis, who is being prosecuted for vehicular manslaughter for a fatal May 2008 crash in which a Sebastopol woman died.


Earlier in the year, Caltrans took several actions in an attempt to reduce crashes in the area. They included reducing the advisory speed at the curve from 40 to 35 miles per hour, and adding larger signage and rumble strips meant to raise motorists' awareness. Officials also shortened a passing lane prior to the curve.


Frisbie said Caltrans' Traffic Safety Office initiated this latest safety project in May.


The project went out to bid, with bids closing last month. The bids were opened on July 28 and the project, coming in at nearly $137,000, was awarded to Santa Rosa's Argonaut Constructors on Aug. 5, Frisbie said.


Frisbie, who anticipated that work on the project will start around the first week of September, said the project will begin with grinding off the top layer of asphalt.


Argonaut Constructors will then pave that section of highway with a 1-inch aggregate open-graded asphalt, which has a higher coefficient of friction and will provide more traction than smaller aggregates more commonly used, according to Frisbie.


The open-graded asphalt also contains open spaces between the aggregate which work with the grooves on vehicle tires to help insure against hydroplaning in wet weather, according to Frisbie.


The expedited construction schedule is meant to insure that the project is completed by the end of October, before the wet winter weather begins, Frisbie said.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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