Construction halted without reopening roads limiting access to Woodward Park area community

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A construction headache will last a lot longer for some Fresno residents and they say it created serious danger when Caltrans stopped a project midway through. (KFSN)

A construction headache will last a lot longer for some Northeast Fresno residents and they say it created serious danger when Caltrans stopped a project midway through.

All things come to a stop along old Highway 41; without a lick of traffic in view, cars sit at a red light on a single lane for minutes at a time.

"That's where we are right now," says Darrel Oblander as he looks to turn his troubles into fodder for laughter. "We don't think that's cool."

The road is usually two lanes and it leads to the Woodward Bluffs, a mobile home park along the San Joaquin River. But Caltrans is updating two bridges over the river, or at least it was.

Four months ago, construction started. Contractors closed off a lane and installed traffic lights. Ever since, the few hundred people living in Woodward Bluffs have seen a lot of red.

"We'll be sitting here waiting and nobody will be coming, but they, maybe the people behind me or somebody the other way gets frustrated and just runs the red light, constantly," said Julie Autrand. "It happens constantly."
We actually saw people running the light while our cameras were off and some of the residents told us if they don't see anyone, they're just going to go - green or red."

"What will happen if that type of behavior continues, somebody very well could die," said Caltrans spokesman Cory Burkarth. "I've driven that before on my own. I've seen several vehicles run the red light."

Caltrans officials seem just as bothered by the issue as the people inconvenienced by the slow-changing light. But in June, they called off construction because of high water levels on the river and now, they're back in a permitting purgatory.

They say steelhead and Chinook salmon in the area are now endangered, so even though the river is back to normal, they can't restart construction until three agencies sign off on it. They're hoping that happens by the end of this month.

But drivers are already worrying about even a two-month delay.

"Can you imagine in foggy weather?" Oblander pondered. "It's going to be a serious situation. So we're asking them to give us our two lanes back."

It won't happen soon-- Caltrans officials say crews aren't likely to finish the project until 2019.

Related Topics:
trafficconstructionroad closurefresnoFresno - Northeast
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