Businesses look forward to completion of Betty Drive project

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Crews have now completed the new Betty Drive bridge and demolished the old one during overnight closures of Highway 99. (KFSN)

This month, there have been a couple of milestones for the Betty Drive interchange project; crews completed the new bridge, and this week, demolished the old one during overnight closures of Highway 99.
Caltrans officials say the $36 million project, which started last year, is now entering the home stretch and is ahead of schedule.

They anticipate all lanes and on and off ramps to open by the end of August.

"So with traffic signals, with dedicated left turn lanes going on to the freeway, we're hoping to see some of that congestion ease up and commuters able to cross over the bridge, get off of 99, onto 99, a much smoother process moving forward," said Caltrans District 6 Information Officer Christian Lukens.

But it hasn't exactly been a smooth ride for local businesses.

The old Highway 99 southbound off-ramp used to spit out right in front of a Sinclair gas station.

That's no longer the case, and the gas station's owner says business is down 60 to 70%.

Visalia Harley-Davidson customers, especially those coming from the south, have had a hard time getting to the store due to the off-ramp closure.

"If they think the exit's open and it's not, they have to run all the way up to Traver which is a ways up there, and then turn around and come back," said General Manager Geoff Allan. "So it's really just inconvenient for people trying to find us."

Allan says the store keeps its Facebook page updated, including drone shots and their own directions.

He admits the construction has been a little rough, but he also looks forward to seeing traffic flows improve when the project is finished.

"At times the bridge was almost completely gridlocked from people not letting people go, and it would just be stuck for five to ten minutes at a time," Allan said. "So it looks really good, it's promising that they got the new bridge open now."

Caltrans says they appreciate the patience of businesses and drivers and remind drivers to slow down in this area for everyone's safety.
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