HWY 99 expansion; more lanes are coming

FRESNO, Calif.

A Major Caltrans project is now officially underway. Construction will take place on highway 99 from just south of Grantland Avenue in Fresno County to just north of Avenue 7 in Madera County.

Fresno county leaders and lawmakers broke ground on Friday morning on the new Caltrans project called, State Route 99 San Joaquin River Six-Lane. Construction crews plan to widen the current four lane divided freeway to a six lane freeway by building two more lanes in the median. Caltrans workers say the goal of the project is to improve congestion.

Project manager James Bane says the roadwork will take place in phases. The 68 million dollar plan was funded by Proposition 1-B, the voter approved measure passed in 2006.

Fresno County supervisor Phil Larson says improving traffic flow is good for local businesses, especially agriculture. "80% of our products here are shipped overseas and they have to have an outlet, so 99 is the outlet," said Larson.

Local fig farmers Alfonso Gill relies on this route to take his crop from farm to table, "It's going to be beneficial for most of us as far as moving out equipment and moving our products back and forth through the Valley," said Gill.

The California Highway Patrol is asking all drivers to expect delays in the area. Caltrans crews say the project will take 3 years to complete. CHP officers say will ticket those driving too fast in the work zone.

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