Road work to cause delays on Highway 140 near Mariposa, days after road reopened after the Ferguson Fire

MARIPOSA, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Ferguson Fire forced officials to close Highway 140 for weeks. Traffic is just now starting to pick up on the highway between Mariposa and the Yosemite Valley after the National Park gates reopened Tuesday.

But the free-flowing traffic will not last long. Caltrans says they will start a more than six-mile paving project along Highway 140 on Monday.

It comes as Mariposa store owners like Su Carney, say business is finally looking up.

"It has been a lot better. We see people coming in. Everyone seems happier."

Carney owns Yosemite Gifts and says she is scared that may soon change now that Caltrans is expected to start road work along major highways in both Mariposa and Oakhurst.

"It seems like Mariposa can't catch a break," says Carney. "I don't know what is going on, but the last several years has been a struggle."

Caltrans officials say the work has to be done now because of funding. The agency's Thomas Lawrence also says pavement work needs to be done before the winter season.

"(In) cold weather or rainy weather, you can't do pavement projects. It has to be a certain temperature. The rain could set things back. I know there has been a big impact, but this project is crucial to keep the pavement from deteriorating."

County supervisors say that the closure of Highway 140 during the Ferguson Fire could cost Mariposa County more than two million in tourism dollars, so they want to make sure this project will not deter more people from coming to visit.

Supervisor Kevin Cann said, "Our goal needs to be that this has no impact on visitors. Our businesses are rightfully concerned. They've lost a lot of business at the peak of peak season."

Near Oakhurst, Caltrans is also working on road projects along both Highway 41 and Highway 49 near Cedar Valley Drive.

Richard Garner of Yosemite Bicycle and Sport says he's already had a slow season, and the road work couldn't come at a worse time.

"This is the time they have to do it. We have no choice. It's been planned for some time."

Caltrans can not push back the project and say drivers along Highway 140 should expect one way controlled traffic and delays around 10 minutes.

The projects are expected to finish up in October.
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