Crews to start construction on HWY 180 Westbound

FRESNO, Calif.

Crews are beginning their second phase of the $49 million "braided ramps" project which could mean headaches for those heading out this weekend.

The alternative is to avoid highway 180. Starting Saturday night at 7 p.m. construction crews will reduce the Westbound 180 to one lane, between Highways 168 and 41.

The Southbound 168 connector to the 180 will be closed, as well as both north and Southbound Highway 41 ramps to the 180 Westbound.

The closures will last for 24 hours, meaning your Super Bowl Sunday travel plans could be delayed.

Transportation Authority Rose Willems said, "Please avoid this work area this weekend, especially when you're coming to and from the super bowl, find another route."

Once the Super Bowl is over and ramps are re-opened you can still expect heavy congestion.

Project Contractor Pat Hinterberger said, "On Sunday evening when we open up, there will be three lanes going through the area instead of five, so there will be a reduced capacity. And that will continue for the next 6 months, including Monday's commute."

Commuters will have two fewer lanes at their disposal and the three remaining lanes will be shifted toward the median as crews install braided ramps so drivers from HWY 41 and 168 can bypass the 180 altogether.

Caltrans Project Manager Neil Bretz said, "And what the structures will do, will allow the new ramps to go up and over each other and avoid this existing weaving conflict today."

Last month HWY 180 Eastbound underwent the same "traffic shift" with little commotion.

Project officials say once done, they hope drivers will notice a shorter and safer commute.

"We're very confident that once the project is complete, the motoring public will see a big increase in efficiency of the project of this particular area and less congestion," Bretz said.

The entire project is expected to be completed by this fall. In the meantime drivers are encouraged to use alternate routes and be patient.

California Highway Patrol officers will be on site enforcing the speed limit through the construction zones.

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