The California Department of Transportation will close a portion of one of San Diego's busiest interchanges from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. today and Sunday, diverting some traffic onto northbound Interstate 5.
The northbound California 163 off-ramp to eastbound Interstate 8 will be closed so that Caltrans can finish putting in bridge piles as part of the interchange's redevelopment, Caltrans spokeswoman Shelly Weber said.
A detour will be set up at the northbound Interstate 5-northbound California 163 interchange in an effort to lessen traffic on northbound 163 past the work site, she said.
While the five-mile stretch of California 163 between Interstate 5 and Interstate 8 will remain open, drivers who want to take Interstate 8 east are urged to use northbound Interstate 5 instead of 163. On the average, more than 100,000 cars a day pass through that stretch of Interstate 163, according to Weber.
"The fewer people there are driving through there the better. It is for both congestion and safety reasons," she said.
Rash of Accidents Involve Caltrans Workers
A rash of accidents involving Caltrans employees is one of the reasons for the traffic diversion, she said. A San Diego man was killed last month while working on a Caltrans project on Interstate 5, and a motorist rammed into the back of a Caltrans truck earlier this week.
These and other accidents involving Caltrans workers have led officials to launch a media campaign urging the public to "Give Our Employees a Brake," schedule as little nighttime construction as possible, and find ways to divert as much traffic as possible away from work sites.
The work scheduled for this weekend was originally to be done Tuesday and Wednesday nights, but noise complaints forced Caltrans to change those plans, Weber said. Another obstacle was the heavy commuter traffic on weekdays through that interchange, one of San Diego's busiest.
"Given all the things that had to be considered, these hours on a weekend with the detours seemed like the only and best option," she said.
The $5.9-million interchange redevelopment project is expected to be completed next year. There are no other interchange closure dates scheduled soon, Weber said.