Budget Crisis Won't Affect Valley Freeway Projects

Fresno In fact construction of another three miles of Highway 180 East from Fresno is underway.

This is where 180 East bound now ends, at Clovis Avenue. Friday morning a $53-point-four million dollar three-point-two mile extension broke ground. The state director of Cal Trans says Central Valley commuters will benefit.

Will Kempton, Director, Ca. Dept Transportation: "It's going to be a gateway to Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks, it is going to serve the cities of Fresno, Clovis, Sanger, Reedley, Squaw Valley and Centerville residents who all rely heavily on this corridor."

Assemblyman Juan Arambula added to the list of those who will use this freeway.

Juan Arambula, 31st Assembly District: "It will help our farmers move their goods to market. It will help our tourism industry."

The project is funded by transportation bonds approved by state voters in 2006 and Fresno County's Measure "C" tax dollars. The mayor of Sanger says his city is growing because of 180 and this mother of three outside the new Super Wal-Mart there agrees.

Crystal Hicks, Uses Highway 180: "I used to live right over here, about 5 minutes away from here and I'd have to go all the way down Jensen and catch 99, but when they put 180 in its much better."

Michael Montelongo, Sanger Mayor: We're seeing an increase not only population of people but also in retail, commercial. And it's because 180 is coming through."

Emily Fielden has mixed feelings, the Highway 180 project was studied in her debate class.

Emily Fielden, Reedley High School Student: It'll help like future-wise and everything but it's taking off a lot of land that people are living, too on.

For the next two years the lands that will become the so called Sequoia Freeway Project will be filled with construction and hope for more to come.

Completion for this section is expected by the end of 2010. The future holds another 13 miles of Highway 180 East ending just before the National Park Lands begin.

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