Left or right on the W-X? Caltrans creates new split lanes for eastbound Highway 50 work

If you frequent the W-X freeway through downtown Sacramento, you’ll want to make sure you’re in the correct lane Monday. Whether it’s the right lane depends on where you want to go.

Caltrans has flipped the switch for a so-called traffic lane switch on eastbound Highway 50 — the stretch of the Capital City Freeway that runs parallel to Broadway — to give construction crews space to complete a carpool lane between Interstate 5 and the interchange with Highway 99.

That means the two left lanes now cross over to the westbound side of the elevated freeway just before Southside Park. The effect brings a little less wiggle room for vehicles going west toward I-5, Yolo County and the Bay Area, but eastbound drivers will need to remember which side they’re on if they want to get off.

The highway department made the move Friday night and the new configuration is expected to stay in place through December as part of the Fix50 project.

An illustration provided by Caltrans of the lane configuration of the W-X portion of the Capital City Freeway during construction of a new carpool lane the eastbound side of Highway 50.
An illustration provided by Caltrans of the lane configuration of the W-X portion of the Capital City Freeway during construction of a new carpool lane the eastbound side of Highway 50.

Know which lane you’ll need

As part of the split, motorists will be expected to stay in the No. 3 lane for the offramps to 15th Street, southbound Highway 99 or the continuation of the Capital City Freeway that runs north to Cal Expo and beyond.

That means drivers will need to stay to the right to access exists for Land Park and downtown or to go south to Elk Grove (via Highway 99) or north to Citrus Heights, Roseville and Truckee (via the Capital City Freeway and Interstate 80).

Caltrans says motorists who stay on Highway 50 to points east should stick to the No. 1 and 2 lanes through the split. That means staying in the leftmost lanes to get to Rancho Cordova, Folsom, Placerville and South Lake Tahoe.

Plenty of signage will be in place for motorists as they approach the new configuration from West Sacramento heading onto the W-X freeway.

Speed reduction in work zone

Another thing to keep in mind: Slowing things down.

Caltrans says speed limits on the elevated freeway will be reduced to 55 mph at all times for safety. Sporadic lane restrictions and heavy-duty trucks entering and exiting from the work zone should also be considered for those right-most vehicles.

The California Highway Patrol will also join the frenzy, watching for problem drivers and any wayward motorists.

The work is one piece of the much-larger Fix50 project, officially known as the U.S. Highway 50 Design-Build Multimodal Corridor Enhancement Project. The Caltrans project has been expanding (and splitting up) the 50 corridor since November 2020 — veteran commuters will know what to do when they reach these new changes because they aren’t much different from the other shifts made further east near UC Davis Medical Center and Sacramento State.

The total cost of the project is budgeted at $433 million, much of which is coming from the SB1 gas tax.

For more information, text Fix50 to 41372 or visit Fix50.com. Updates are also available on Caltrans District 3’s @Fix50 Twitter and Facebook pages.