Road reopened one month after tanker explosion in Atwater

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Exactly one month after a horrific tanker explosion off Highway 99 in Atwater, Applegate road has opened back up. (KFSN)

Exactly one month after a horrific tanker explosion off Highway 99 in Atwater, Applegate road has opened back up.

"We rely on that traffic, the freeway traffic, so I'm very excited," said Kamal Dhaliwal, owner of AM/PM.

The owner of the AM/PM right across from where the massive fire happened said she has seen business decline about 30 to 40-percent since the road has been shut down.

"I was just praying it would open before 4th of July, because that's one of our major holidays-- that are really big for us," said Dhaliwal.

Laborers and cement masons finished up their final touches Friday morning before Cal Trans opened the road back up for traffic. The contractor on this project said his workers have been working 9 to 10 hour days, including last weekend so they could open it by Friday.

"It feels pretty good to finally get this thing open, all these businesses have been suffering," said Tom Mayo, construction company owner and contractor.

And while some people may not be happy about the heat, he said the high temperatures actually helped dry the cement even quicker.

The mayor of Atwater said the city even waived fees to get this done as soon as possible and is thankful everyone's hard work has finally come to fruition. And while there will still be some work to get done, like replacing the stop lights burned in the fire, landscaping, and opening one more parking lot entrance, he wants to make sure something like this won't happen again. He said he may work with Cal Trans to make this highway exit a little safer.

"I myself would like to see where there could be a study to see if we could have a deceleration lane extended on 99 as you're coming south," said Jim Price, Mayor of Atwater.

Although stores like AM/PM are happy to have business back, they are still thinking about the family of the driver who lost his life that same day.

"My heart goes out to them. I feel so bad-- Father's Day went by I was so sad for them," said Dhaliwal.

Related Topics:
trafficroad closuremerced countyexplosionAtwater
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