MADERA COUNTY (KFSN) --A widening project on a busy stretch of Highway 41 in Madera county was actually ahead of schedule.
Motorists headed to the foothills have grown used to cruising past large rock formations along the highway. But crews have been setting off explosives to clear space to widen the lanes.
Caltrans spokesman Cory Burkarth said, "You can feel it and you can see it from a thousand feet away so they're pretty impressive."
Crews have been blowing up large chunks of rock along Highway 41 near Road 208. The blasting will continue for another week as big boulders must be reduced to smaller rocks.
Burkarth explained, "There's a lot of rock that's alongside the roadway so in order for them to clear that space and install that pavement they have to blast a lot of that rock that's too heavy to be removed on its own by our equipment."
On one busy stretch of highway, passing lanes will be added in both directions.
Traffic slows to a stop at times during construction. Vehicles were allowed through after crews prepped the site so charges could be set off. Traffic then backed up again after the blast as workers cleared away the rocks. Frustrated motorists often stop at the 22 Mile House to cool off.
Store clerk John Schneider said, "It will be more lanes open and easier traffic so it will be good for everyone."
That could happen earlier than expected.
Burkarth said the project is running ahead of schedule. "We're going to begin paving sometime late May, early June, that is our expectations right now weather permitting."
The Highway 41 widening project was now expected to be done in early August instead of the fall.