MADERA COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Call it an early Christmas present to drivers in Madera County.
The Biden Administration announced $25 million in funding will go to the Madera 41 Expressway Improvement Project.
"Infrastructure investments haven't always reached rural America, leaving far too many roads, bridges and other parts of the transportation system across our country in disrepair," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. "Today's announcement is one of many ways this administration is delivering the investments that rural communities have gone without for far too long, modernizing transportation, creating economic opportunity and making life better for millions of people."
The project already in the works will expand a four-mile stretch of Highway 41 from Avenue 10 1/2 to Avenue 15 from two lanes to four.
"Having four lanes of traffic with a center divider you have less propensity of traffic," said California Highway Patrol Officer Javier Rubvalcaba.
In addition to Yosemite tourism bringing drivers to Highway 41, housing and business development has also added more cars to the roadway.
"With the traffic flow comes other problems, traffic congestion and crashes. So, we've seen an increase in this area," explained Rubvalcaba.
"At the same time, you do get the major traffic crashes. You get your wrong ways and fatalities, which are the worst ones, and DUI crashes."
Madera County Deputy Public Works Director Jared Carter says they're still in the design stage for phase one but their project will improve safety by upgrading travel lanes and road shoulders.
"So, it looks much like what you see south of Avenue 10 1/2 between, you know, Fresno and Madera, with the the wide median in the middle. Then beyond that, on Avenue 12 it will come back down to conventional high, which is four lanes, a slightly narrower median," Carter said.
The project scope also includes several environmental benefits, including new energy-efficient lighting.
District One supervisor Brett Frazier says the grant is the fourth largest award in the nation.
Construction for phase one of the project will likely start in 2024.
"You know, we've already got the environmental done. We just raise our road impact fees, but this is going to be able to kick it off and and get these much needed improvements much earlier than than what we would have been doing it," Frazier said. "It'll probably advance the project by a good 10 years."