Reducing freeway congestion in the Fresno area

FRESNO, Calif.

Caltrans held an open house where residents could learn more about the project, which includes the stretch of freeway along the 180 between freeways 41 and 168.

James and Judith Palmer have lived off Cedar Avenue for 37 years and know firsthand how stressful it can be for drivers on Highway 41 to merge onto eastbound Highway 180, while at the same time those on 180 to get onto Highway 168 at the Cedar off-ramps.

Judith Palmer said, "If it gets too busy we don't even take that section, we'll take the surface streets and get on somewhere else."

So they came here to an open house at Hidalgo Elementary School to learn more about the braided ramps project.

Action News asked, "Do you think this will alleviate some of your concerns?"

James Palmer replied, "I do. I really do."

Caltrans insists the impacts will be minimal. A pair of bridges, one on each side of 180 will be built on land set aside for the project and workers will do most of the construction at night.

Spokesperson Gloria Rodriquez believes the bridges will eliminate the need for drivers to swerve across traffic to get to where they want to go. She says bypass lanes will also prevent drivers from having to merge onto the main lanes of Highway 180 which will further reduce congestion.

Rodriquez said, "We feel it's going to help drivers a lot because right now drivers can't make the decision do I move over? Do I slow down? And we have had a lot of rear-end type of accidents and that type of thing."

Plans for the projects have been in the works for more than five years, but were stalled because of lack of funding. Measure C or Fresno County's half-cent sales tax made construction possible and neighbors say it's about time.

"I think it's great," Judith Palmer said. "It's going to make the traffic run a whole lot smoother."

Construction of the project is expected to be complete in December 2013.

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