Big changes for Fresno's braided ramps project

FRESNO, Calif.

Construction crews and the California Highway Patrol want you to pay close attention as new traffic patterns mean the project is almost done but it also means quite a change for drivers.

When it's finished, the $50 million braided ramps project will give Valley drivers a safer and easier commute. But, even Caltrans admits it's been a challenging two years.

Caltrans Project Manager Neil Bretz said, "We have three major freeways converging in about a mile and a half and the volumes keep increasing - this area is growing."

The project predicts the future for Fresno drivers. Engineers expect to accommodate the Valley's traffic for the next 20 years. Embarking on that plan meant balancing the needs of both commuters and construction crews.

The Highway Patrol reports nearly 380 accidents since January of 2013. As the lane closures continue for the final phase of the project, the CHP urges drivers to use caution.

CHP Captain Dave Paris said, "The only way you're going to get through this the new transition phase is to slow down and pay attention to the signs."

The next closure will start Friday at Midnight -- Westbound 180 between 168 and 41 will be closed, as will some connector ramps and on-ramps.

Construction Manager Pat Hinterberger said, "Westbound 168 traffic will no longer have to merge with westbound 180 traffic to get to 41."

That means your Monday morning commute could bring confusion for some. Crews are anxious to get it done and say this weekend's shut down is one more step towards the final phase of completion. Drivers should expect it to be all said and done by March.

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