Stimulus Money Headed to the Valley

March 12, 2009 11:32:36 PM PDT
The state has approved a list of more than 50 transportation projects for the first round of infrastructure-based federal stimulus funding. Several of the projects are located here in the Valley.Long time construction worker Manuel Valdez has seen the recession and the late state budget silence several projects and leave workers struggling to find jobs. Valdez said, "There's been cutbacks to hours and also positions."

But he's hoping the state transportation projects approved for 625 million dollars in federal stimulus funding this week will help get the industry back in gear.

"I think we do need the money, and I think we need the work. I think California needs a lot of road improvements," said Valdez.

The California Transportation Commission approved 57 projects for the first round of funding, including several in the Central Valley.

About 16 million will go to rehabilitate Highway 145 in Madera County from Avenue 5 1/2 to Avenue 11 1/2. Another three million will be used for maintenance projects on Routes 41 and 33 in Kern and Kings Counties. And two million will go toward maintenance on Routes 33 and 198 in Fresno County.

In Merced County, nearly 47 million dollars will be spent to replace these two aging bridges on Highway 99 over Black Rascal Creek. And more than a million dollars will be used to fill potholes and lay new asphalt on Highway 33 in and near Dos Palos from the Fresno County line to Highway 152. Bob Yonker is happy to see the money being spent on the roadway he takes to work.

Bob Yonkers said, "It's not bad, it's not bad. But they need to maintain it so it doesn't get bad."

Caltrans officials say the first projects will start within sixty days. The Merced County projects will get underway in the fall.

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