The California Department of Transportation plans to widen Highway 99 from four to six lanes through Galt, but it must remove or replace at least three interchanges and overpasses in the process, a traffic consultant said at a traffic workshop Thursday.
The C Street interchange and overpasses at Simmerhorn Road and Amador Avenue were built in such a way in the 1950s and '60s that the freeway can't be widened, said Martin Inouye, a principal with Omni-Means, whom the city hired to develop a new traffic circulation study.
Caltrans may also reduce the number of interchanges and offramps due to Caltrans' policy to not have more than one interchange per mile, Inouye told a crowd of only three residents who attended the Workshop at City Hall.
That means Galt would probably have only three locations to get on and off the freeway, Inouye said.
"You have a lot of interchanges in a very small space," he said. "We have to decide where we want our interchanges."
A popular solution among residents and city leaders is to build an overcrossing at Walnut Avenue, but Inouye said the city could hit a stumbling block from Caltrans - Walnut is only three-quarters of a mile south of the Twin Cities Road exit.
Caltrans' one-mile policy between freeway exits is more of a guideline, Inouye said, so the agency could be flexible on the issue.
Currently Galt has six exits in each direction on Highway 99, but what makes it complicated is that the six exits aren't the same. On only two of the exits, at C Street and Twin Cities Road, can motorists cross the freeway.
Part of Inouye's plan is to make it easier to get from one side of the freeway to the other.
Alan Lee, a Caltrans employee who lives in Galt, suggested that a straight overcrossing connecting Simmerhorn and Elm Avenue be built.
Regarding surface streets, the road system east of Highway 99 is well-planned with Carillion Boulevard extending south from Twin Cities Road to Simmerhorn Road, Inouye said. Twin Cities, Simmerhorn and Walnut Avenue provide good east-west access, he said.
The Omni-Means study will evaluate extending Carillion south from Simmerhorn to Crystal Way, just north of the entrance to Dry Creek Ranch Golf Course.
Driving around the west side of Galt can be a challenge, he said. Lincoln Way is a good north-south thoroughfare, and drivers can get through town on A, C and F streets. However, the remainder of the street system isn't so driver friendly, Inouye said.
C Street - the main entrance to Galt's business area - needs to be widened to accommodate traffic, he said, but near the freeway exit, businesses have been built too close to either side of the street to widen it very much.
Yet another challenge facing Omni-Means is how to improve traffic around Galt Market, which can be bumper-to-bumper on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, when the open-air market is open for business.
"You have to have some perseverance" to drive to Galt Market, Inouye said.
Inouye said he will seek extensive public input as he develops the plan over the next several months.
A second workshop is scheduled for May 10, when engineers will discuss where Galt's traffic flows succeed and fail. A final plan will be presented to the Galt Planning Commission in September and the City Council the following month.
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