FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --Thousands of dead trees are coming down in Madera and Mariposa counties while Caltrans is in the process of increasing roadway safety.
One by one, dead trees are being cut down and taken away alongside Highway 41. The multi-million dollar Caltrans project started near Fish Camp and crews are already starting to clear what will soon be tens of thousands of trees.
"(Highway) 41 up along Yosemite is a major tourist road," Cory Burkarth with Caltrans said. "It's a major artery for this part of the state. It's important we keep it safe and keep it open for the folks that live in the community, for the folks that work in this community and that's what this is about."
Both Highway 41 and Highway 49 will have trees removed near the Madera and Mariposa County lines. The project begins a year after Gov. Jerry Brown declared a State of Emergency over tree mortality. Caltrans said the agency has allocated $46 million to remove dead trees in a 10-county area.
Burkarth said by removing the trees, it lowers the risk of a wildfire spreading or a tree falling and blocking a roadway.
"You're talking about trees a couple hundred feet tall," he said. "They're tall, large, they're heavy. You get a situation where these trees are dying, they fall down and roll to the roadway, they shut down the road for hours at a time. What we're doing right now is to get ahead of this situation."
But with construction comes congestion.
"This is annoying," said one person who traveled to Yosemite. "That's all I have to say."
The highway is often populated by residents who live nearby and visitors who come to see the national park. Klau said he drove six hours from Irvine to see Yosemite and after such a long trip, this is the last thing he wants to see.
"I guess they have to remove the trees," he said. "So they have to do what they have to do. It's just inconvenient."
Caltrans said the trees to go down have been marked and chipping will begin next week.