New set of Highway 269 bridges will protect town of Huron from flooding

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A stretch of Highway 269 is known for turning into a river each winter when it rains.

When the two-lane road floods between Highway 198 to the north and the town of Huron to the south floods, it forces people living in the small western Fresno County community to change their daily commute.

"The residents of this city have to travel 28 miles out of their way or have to take and suffer the consequences of trying to drive on a road that has a flood," said Fresno Assembly Member, Dr. Joaquin Arambula.

For decades drivers would have to take a detour west to Interstate 5 near Harris Ranch.

That detour turned deadly in March of 1995 when heavy rains and floods washed out a bridge at Arroyo Pasajero Creek.

Seven people died and most of them were from Huron.

"We know if you are here from Huron that if it is raining pretty hard you are not going to waste your time to go on Highway 269. You are going to take the alternate and that's what they did," said Huron Mayor, Rey Leon.

Thursday CalTrans had a groundbreaking ceremony for a set of new bridges on Highway 269.

The $30 million project will elevate the highway 15 feet higher from its current position.

"We are widening the channel to allow it to capacity and to keep the flows directly under the bridge. In certain events, the channel breaks out of its banks and flows in different directions. So we are trying to stabilize that,"said CalTrans Project Manager, Neil Bretz.

CalTrans says flooding forces the Highway 269 to shut down 22 days a year with an economic impact on the town of Huron at $500,000.

Actual construction will begin in December with detour for the highway while CalTrans builds the new bridges.

Work should be complete by the summer of 2020 and the cost will be covered by Measure C and State Highway Operation and Protection Program money.
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