Sugar Pine Trail construction begins

FRESNO, Calif.

Crews closed down Shepherd Avenue Monday morning between Perrin and Millbrook to build an underpass for the trail.

Early Monday morning, construction crews went to work on the Sugar Pine Trail to make the heavily used path underground.

Karen Torres and her husband Richard have lived in Northeast Fresno for a number of years and have seen several close calls at the crossing.

"For the safety, for the bicyclist and pedestrians walking its just a safe idea." said Karen Torres.

Just last summer, 7-year-old Donovan Maldonado was struck and killed in the crosswalk, raising questions about the safety of the area.

"Oh that was tragic, absolutely tragic. You cant bring it back all you can do is move forward and try to do something for the future and I think that's a really good idea to have that done," said Richard Torres.

The city said the nearly $1.5 million project, which is federally funded, has been in the works for years, and was not prompted by Maldonado's death.

"This project was brought about because of funding, air quality money, to help reduce idling and stop and go traffic along Shepherd Avenue." said Fresno Public Works Dirtector Patrick Wiemiller.

The new route will mean pedestrians and cars will no longer have to share the roadway. During construction,Shepherd will be closed to traffic.

Neighbors Action News spoke with said they plan to take different routes.

"It's going to create some congestion for everybody obviously and everybody's going to be put out somewhat, but it's for the betterment of the whole neighborhood and I think it's something that had to be done all along," said Richard Torres.

This is the ninth tunnel to be constructed along the Sugar Pine Trail between Clovis and Fresno and the fifth one in Fresno.

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