The Alameda County Transportation Commission (Alameda CTC), in partnership with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), joined by regional and local officials, celebrated the start of construction on the I-680 Sunol Express Lanes with a groundbreaking ceremony last week.

Construction will begin on nine miles of a new high-occupancy vehicle (HOV)/continuous access express lane in the northbound direction on I-680 between State Route 262 and State Route 84. The adjacent I-680 Southbound Express Lane, which Alameda CTC and Caltrans opened to traffic in 2010, will be upgraded for easier access.

The I-680 Sunol Northbound Express Lane Project will widen the existing freeway and construct a new, approximately nine-mile HOV/express lane and associated improvements on northbound I-680 between Auto Mall Parkway and SR-84 in Alameda County.

The construction contract was awarded to Concord, CA-based Bay Cities Paving & Grading, Inc. in November 2017.

The new northbound lane is projected to open to traffic in late 2020. This new express lane will promote carpooling and ridesharing, help alleviate traffic congestion and improve operations along one of the most congested corridors in the region.

"Today, we celebrate the start of construction to provide real relief for northbound commuters over the Sunol Grade. This high-occupancy vehicle (HOV)/express lane represents the first incentive and benefit to carpoolers heading northbound," said Scott Haggerty, Alameda County District 1 Supervisor and Alameda County Transportation Commission Member. "None of these projects would be possible without our voter-approved local sales tax dollars from Measure B, passed by voters in 2000, and Measure BB, which passed in 2014. Our local sales tax dollars are delivering as promised."

The I-680 Sunol Southbound Express Lane was opened in 2010 as the first express lane in the Bay Area. Since then, Alameda CTC opened the east- and westbound I-580 Express Lanes in 2016, and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission opened the I-680 Contra Costa Express Lanes in 2017.

I-680 at the Sunol Grade is consistently ranked one of the top 10 most congested freeway corridors in the Bay Area. Queues near Andrade Road begin to form at 2 p.m. or earlier most weekdays and extend beyond Scott Creek Road (nearly 10 miles) by the peak afternoon commute. Travel time delay contributes to diverted traffic on Calaveras Boulevard, Mission Road and Mission Boulevard.