New stretch of Hwy 180 set to open

FRESNO, Calif.

The first segment of the four-lane 180 East Kings Canyon Expressway from Temperance to Quality Avenues will open next week.

"We have about 100,000 people on the eastside of the Fresno County region that will be served by this roadway and the traffic increase is already making it very evident it was very much needed," said Fresno County Supervisor Judy Case.

Local city, county and state transportation officials came out today to celebrate the completion of the $68 million dollar project that faced years of delay due to financial hazards. Measure C funds and federal stimulus dollars were used to move the plan in high-gear.

"Being the important east-west corridor that it is, it's also very important to the cities along the eastside of the county and the Valley, namely Reedley and Sanger," said Caltrans acting director Malcolm Dougherty.

"In the city of Sanger, we're looking right now at annexing out towards the 180 and this gives us that opportunity to see the increase traffic," said Sanger Mayor Joshua Mitchell.

Officials say the expansion won't just drive down traffic congestion for motorists on the eastside but drive up economic opportunities for rural communities along the highway.

"With this extended 180 and the widening of it, I think we can see that traffic count maybe step up to $2 million," said Mitchell. "As a result, that offers so many more opportunities for businesses that would have never looked at Sanger before, to look at Sanger now."

Authorities say the expansion will also improve people's access to experience the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. "It will also provide economic development opportunities for our local businesses, because people love to visit the national parks, they typically stop along the way, we can share all the wonderful amenities in the area," said Case.

Drivers will be able to cruise down all four lanes by Wednesday, September 28th.

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.