By Denise Yergenson
For those who travel California State Route 44 in and out of Redding, the changes to the route may seem like a routine event. For those who only travel the route once in a while, the changes are dramatic.
When most people envisioned the “new” three-lane project over the Sacramento River and new access from Hilltop and Dana drives, they thought small. Little did they know the magnitude of this amazing project!
The north side of the Sacramento River bridge has just about been demolished, and motorists are travelling on the center portion, which until just a few months ago, didn’t exist. The contractor has filled in the center portion of the bridge, making a temporary structure for vehicles to travel on while new bridges are constructed. Once the north side is complete, workers will begin demolishing the south side to create room for new lanes on that side of the structure. When complete, traffic will be directed to the newly built north and south bridges, and work will start on the middle portion.
Residents and travelers will also notice the changes to the area of the southbound Interstate 5 exit to westbound SR 44. Major earthwork will create new lanes for motorists entering SR 44 from the north and from the newly created Hilltop/Dana ramp and southbound from I-5. Once complete, motorists will have a much smoother transition from I-5 and the eastside of Redding to the downtown.
Other changes are evident at the Auditorium Drive overcrossing. One most notable change at this stage is the renaming of the roadway to Sundial Bridge Drive. New signs have been placed on I-5, more easily directing visitors to the Turtle Bay Exploration Park and the Sundial Bridge.
The entire over-crossing will be replaced with a new structure immediately to the east of the existing one. It will be a four-lane facility, allowing for much better access in and out of the Turtle Bay and Convention Center area. Earthwork and changes to that are also extensive.
Work continues on the Continental Street Bridge on SR 44 crossing over the street below. The structure is being widened to accommodate an auxiliary lane from downtown to the Sundial Bridge exit. In addition to the changes to the bridges, new retaining walls have been built along the back of the businesses on Butte Street.
Of course all these changes come with some challenges as well. Traffic speeds have been reduced throughout the project to keep the roadway safe for motorists as well as the construction crew. Noise levels have increased with large equipment working and the pile driving necessary to build the new bridge piers. Caltrans and contractor Golden State Bridge, have made every effort to conduct major work during the daytime hours and have kept lane closures to evening hours, keeping traffic backups minimal and the commute smooth.
Once complete, the Dana to Downtown project will be a major improvement to the Redding area, reducing traffic congestion, improving the travel and safety of motorists, providing better access to both sides of the river, enhancing the pedestrian and bicycle access and improving the aesthetics of the area.
As always, if you have questions or comments about the project, please don’t hesitate to email the Caltrans Public Information Office at Denise_yergenson@dot.ca.gov.
Denise Yergenson is the Public Information Officer for Caltrans District 2, P.O. Box 496073
Redding, CA 96049-6073, 30-225-3260.