California Department of Transportation

California Department of Transportation

Date: September 5, 2014
Contact: Dennis Keaton
Phone:(530) 741-5474 (office) (916) 825-5252 (mobile

Caltrans Lowers Speed Limit in I-80 Work Zone

Public reminded to be Work Zone Alert in “Across the Top”
highway construction project area

SACRAMENTO – In an effort to improve highway safety, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the California Highway Patrol (CHP) have reduced the speed limit from 65 to 55 mph in the work zone on Interstate 80 in Natomas.

Caltrans also added more visible signage directing motorists to prepare to merge where on-ramps connect to I-80. In addition, all exit signs have been positioned to increase visibility.

“The primary types of traffic incidents were rear end collisions, primarily between Truxel and Northgate where motorists should slow down and stay alert,” said Caltrans District 3 Construction Safety Engineer, Ed Yarbrough.  “Slowing traffic in the work zone can help reduce the incidence of rear-end collisions by giving drivers more time to observe and react to traffic conditions.”

The data showed 29 of 38 traffic incidents were rear-end collisions. Three drivers had no license or were driving with a suspended license. Caltrans will continue to monitor collisions in the work zone to see if any more patterns develop.

Rear-end collisions are the most common type of work zone crash, according to the Federal Highway Administration. Distracted driving also contributes to 93 percent of rear-end collisions, according to a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

CHP officers will be monitoring traffic throughout the construction site and issuing citations to motorists who exceed the 55 mile per hour speed limit. The officers will also help respond rapidly to any traffic collisions in the construction zone. The CHP reminds motorists to keep safety in mind as they travel through the work zone. 

"A split second of inattention can result in a lifetime of devastation," said Chief Willie Godinez, commander of CHP's Valley Division, which encompasses the greater Sacramento area. "Motorists are reminded to eliminate distractions and pay attention to what is going on around them on the highway. When approaching a construction zone, give workers adequate space by moving over when possible or slowing to a safe speed as you pass by."

Caltrans reminds drivers to be especially alert and expect slowing near the Interstate 80 Across the Top project as well as other work zones all over the state.  The $133 million Across the Top project is adding bus/carpool lanes to I-80 between West El Camino Avenue and Watt Avenue, and adding one mile of auxiliary lanes in both directions of Interstate 80 from West El Camino Avenue to the Interstate 80/Interstate 5 interchange. In order to reduce congestion in the area, Caltrans created two express lanes that extend four miles for motorists who are commuting through the area and do not need to exit the freeway. Another lane is provided for drivers who need to exit in the area.

Caltrans recently launched a new statewide safety education campaign to raise awareness of the need to be especially alert near highway work zones. The new campaign, Be Work Zone Alert, reminds drivers to be alert for unpredictable traffic, and vehicles merging or stopping suddenly where there is work happening on roads and highways, emphasizing that distracted driving is especially risky near these highway work zones.

 “We want everyone to be especially alert when driving near highway workers, whose lives are on the line,” commented Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty.

The campaign features children of actual Caltrans workers on billboards, web banners and radio public service announcements reminding drivers to Be Work Zone Alert because their parents are at risk.  For additional information about Caltrans’ Across the Top project, visit:

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