"It would be a great holiday gift for everybody," said Antioch Mayor Don Freitas at the April 12 meeting of the State Route 4 Bypass Authority. "I realize that (the) Laurel (Road interchange) might be a month or two behind that, but the sooner we can open Segment 1 the better."
Work on Segment 1, which connects Highway 4 east of Hillcrest Avenue with the existing Bypass segment at Lone Tree Way, is ahead of schedule, according to Bart Littell, project manager for Parsons Brinckerhoff Construction Services Inc., which is overseeing the construction.
"Things continue to go really well out in the field," Littell told the authority members. "The dry weather has really helped. The last couple of months have been the most construction on any project that I've been on this time of year in this area."
The Oakley segment of the Bypass is more than two-thirds complete, he said. The paving has been laid and striped, and the roadway excavation on the Highway 4 median east of Hillcrest has been completed.
"If you've driven through there you've probably seen that it's starting to look like a finished project," said Littell. "Basically we are substantially complete with all of the grading on the project now for Segment 1, which is actually a big milestone. We have fine grading to do, evening out the elevation and things like that. But we are done with the big dirt moving."
Much of the work now focuses on putting in drainage, utilities, poles and construction of the Laurel Road overhead bridge.
Completion of the Oakley segment will allow vehicles to bypass downtown Oakley and Brentwood as they travel between Highway 4 and Balfour Road. At that point, much of the traffic going to and from Vasco Road will travel Balfour and Walnut Boulevard - until the southernmost Bypass leg, Segment 3, is complete, connecting
Balfour to Vasco with an interchange at Marsh Creek Road.
Paving on Marsh Creek has been completed, but authority members were concerned that all of the work in that area be finished by the beginning of U-Pick season when hordes of fruit lovers converge on the area, beginning with the cherry harvest in May.
"You're going to have to have it done by cherries or they'll have me out there directing traffic," joked Brentwood Mayor Bob Taylor, adding that County Supervisor Mary Piepho might be found hanging from a tree if the Bypass work ties up the U-Pick traffic. "Make sure we have got those lights on those intersections. That will be a total mess too, because people get lost."
Littell said that they will not be working on Saturdays during the cherry season and that he's contacting the Harvest Time group to work out the logistics.
"We will be putting in new (traffic signals) at Walnut and Marsh Creek," said Littell. "We're pushing for May 1 (to be finished). We've had some issues along the way. There's been (issues with) utilities and we lost a few days here and there. But I think we're going to make it prior to the cherry season."
Although Littell expects Segment 1 to be finished around October, the contractor has until January of 2008 to finish and is not committed at this point to finishing sooner.
"But with the progress they are making it's pretty obvious that it's going to be well before that," Littell told the authority. "I still think that they would not let it go into winter. They would want to be done with it by October."