Emergency repair efforts begin Saturday to fix the damaged overpass at Applegate Road and Highway 99 in Atwater and motorists should expect some periodic highway closures over the next several weeks.
Caltrans officials on Wednesday released more scheduling details to fix the major overpass in Atwater, which feeds one of the city’s most significant business districts. The overpass at Applegate Road was damaged Oct. 11 when it was struck by a big rig carrying an excavator that investigators determined had been loaded incorrectly.
The excavator clipped the underside of the overpass, damaging four girders. Three girders will be patched with concrete, Caltrans said in a news release, but the fourth requires reconstruction that will take several weeks to complete.
“Results of the inspection also deemed it safe for motorists to drive under the overcrossing, although the overcrossing has been closed to prevent vehicles from adding additional weight as they drive on top of the structure,” Caltrans said in the statement.
R.A. Nemetz Construction, a contractor based in Galt, will team with Caltrans to begin the repairs Saturday and Sunday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day, shutting down the left northbound lane of Highway 99.
CHP Officer Eric Zuniga said officers expect traffic to slow and back up significantly. “It’s happening over the weekend, too, so it’ll get a little heavy going northbound,” Zuniga said in a telephone interview.
The CHP also posted a video Wednesday morning updating drivers and area residents on the upcoming reconstruction efforts.
The right lane of northbound Highway 99 and the on- and off-ramps at Applegate Road will remain open during that time.
Repairing the damaged fourth girder gets underway Saturday, Oct. 27 and “will require nightly full-highway closures of northbound (Highway) 99 at Applegate Road from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. through Saturday, Nov. 10,” Caltrans said.
Drivers traveling north on the highway will be detoured at the Atwater Boulevard Exit 196, about a mile and a half south of Applegate Road, continue north on Atwater Boulevard and take the Atwater Boulevard on-ramp to northbound Highway 99. Southbound traffic will not be affected, according to Caltrans.
Businesses in that area of Atwater have been hit hard in recent years with a string of fatal traffic collisions, as well as a recent arson fire at a major grocery store and a tanker-truck explosion last year that shut down traffic for more than a month on the same stretch of road leading to Commerce Avenue.
City officials and business owners have said they’re worried about the effect this latest closure will have on the local economy.