[See update at foot of story.]
After weeks of dire warnings about traffic delays from the Ashby resurfacing project, some of the worst fears came to pass this afternoon. Preparations for the project have slowed traffic on Ashby for the last several weeks, but the resurfacing only started yesterday because some of the necessary machinery was being used in another city.
At 2 p.m. today, traffic coming south on Belrose Avenue and Claremont Boulevard — usually a slow-moving chain of cars coming from the university — was at a standstill. Traffic heading east on Ashby was even more stymied than usual. Drivers who thought they’d be clever by turning onto Russell Avenue found themselves at the end of a long, static line of cars and trucks on the usually empty street.
According to Caltrans spokesman Greg Townsend, the work has been proceeding on schedule since yesterday’s start. He said the Hiller Drive to Claremont section should be completed by the middle of next week. Work will then shift to the Claremont to Telegraph stretch of Ashby.
“We were kind of hoping to get it done before school was in full swing,” Townsend said. Although there is no announced finish date, the original schedule, with a mid-June start, called for at least three months of work. “The way we’re working, we could be done a little sooner, but it’s too early to say. I can say that once it’s done, it will be amazing.”
The resurfacing work is restricted to 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays, following a request from the City of Berkeley. Nighttime work is limited to digout repairs at the intersections of Ashby and Telegraph Avenue, and Ashby and Shattuck. Final striping, which doesn’t involve the noise of grinding and resurfacing, will occur during day and night hours.
Update, 3:40pm: At around 3:15 pm, a section of Claremont Avenue, approximately between Russell Avenue and Prince Street was closed to traffic and detours were being imposed. Cars were at a standstill, or at best moving very slowly, in all surrounding areas. A medical emergency outside the Berkeley Tennis Club, which involved several emergency vehicles, was hindering the flow of traffic still further.
Major paving work to begin mid-June on Ashby Avenue [06.11.12]
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