Groundbreaking kicked off the next phase of Highway 180 work

FRESNO, Calif.

In 2011, Cal Trans finished widening the180 between Temperance and Quality Avenues. Road crews turned two lanes into four lanes along the six mile stretch.

The next phase of construction will pick up where the last one left off. Caltrans will widen 180 from Quality and Smith Avenues. The construction project will approach the Centerville Community.

"It's the most beautiful thing that's ever happened," Sanger Resident Herbert Merk said.

Merk owns a ranch along 180. He gave up 10 acres of his land to make the improvement project a reality.

Merk says it worth it. He says he uses 180 often to drive into town and visit his wife in a convalescent home. He says since the first phase of the 180 expressway project, traffic is no longer an issue.

"I can leave my house and be in the convalescent home in no more than 11 minutes." Merk said.

Caltrans says the Highway180 improvements alleviates traffic congestion and improves road safety. Sanger Mayor Joshua Mitchell says it does more than that and points to the first phase of the state road improvements.

"The city of Sanger has sold more houses month after month in the Fresno Metropolitan area since the 180 construction and that shows you that the 180 was necessary," Mitchell said.

Caltrans will begin clearing out the empty lots of grass and dirt along the three mile stretch of 180 they plan to widen. Crews will begin next week, according to Neil Bretz, the Project Manager with Caltrans.

"The construction will be from seven in the morning to four in the afternoon," Bretz said. "Very little work on the weekend is planned. And right now, we don't have any work planned at night."

Phase two construction is expected to finish by spring 2015.

The project is priced at $41.6 million dollars. It's paid for by bonds and sales tax money from Measure C. The next and final phase of the 180 improvement project is scheduled to start soon after phase two is complete, depending on when funding becomes available.

"It's going to change the alignment a little bit," Bretz said. "It will be slightly north of the Centerville area. We will actually bypass Centerville and bypass the community of Minkler. Then we actually tie back in to the existing route."

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