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First Street construction

First Street east of California Boulevard on Thursday morning as construction proceeds on a roundabout scheduled to open in December. More detours are planned to start Oct. 7.

As part of the roundabout construction project, Caltrans announced Thursday that both the northbound Highway 29 off-ramp and loop on-ramp at First Street will be closing for two months starting Monday, Oct. 7.

The ramps are expected to reopen at the end of November when a working roundabout should be ready at this location, project sponsors said.

These closures follow a series of other traffic detours that have been implemented since the construction of three roundabouts started in June.

“Yes, this is more of an inconvenience,” said Eric Whan, the city of Napa’s deputy public works director. “But I tell folks it’s shortening the duration of the project, which shortens the inconvenience to the public.”

On Oct. 7, motorists wanting to get off the freeway for downtown or west Napa will be detoured north to the offramps at Lincoln Avenue. Those who want downtown will be directed to return south on California Boulevard and follow the signs to Second Street.

The loop northbound on ramp for eastbound vehicles coming from Browns Valley and Westwood areas on First will also be closed for two months. Motorists most likely will want to cross the freeway to Second Street, then follow the signs north to the freeway entrance at Lincoln, Whan said.

These are but the latest detours tied to the construction of three roundabouts west of downtown Napa.

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The northbound freeway on ramp for westbound First Street vehicles closed in early summer. Motorists are being detoured to northbound California where they can enter Highway 29 at Lincoln.

In early September, Caltrans shut down northbound and southbound through traffic on California Boulevard while work proceeded on roundabouts at the California/First and California/Second intersections. Vehicles have been detoured onto side streets to rejoin California.

Because of all these detours, many motorists are avoiding the area, which has helped reduce backups, Whan said. Some motorists report improved east-west movements.

The roundabout on First Street at the Highway 29 on- and off-ramps should be operational at the end of November if things go according to schedule, Whan said.

The roundabout at First and California should be working by year’s end, with completion of the roundabout at Second and California set for early next year, he said.

When the roundabout at First and California begins carrying traffic, First and Second streets will be flipped. First between California and Jefferson Street will carry vehicles into downtown while Second carries them out.

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City Editor

Kevin has been city editor since September 2010. He joined the Register in 1973 as a reporter. He covered Napa City Hall and assorted other beats over the years. Kevin has been writing his Napa Journal column on Sundays since 1989.