Grassroots movement to widen dangerous Highway 41 stretch gains momentum

On Friday, elected officials said they are committed to working with Caltrans to make the project a priority.
FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- A $60 million project to widen a two-lane section of Highway 41 between Fresno and Lemoore was slated to take place decades ago, but for various reasons never happened.

"The process was supposed to be done in the 80s and 90s and it was supposed to be built in the early 2000s. And we can see where we're at - we're not even on the priority list again," said Fresno County Supervisor Buddy Mendes.

Over the past five years, there have been 260 crashes along the busy stretch of road. Several have been fatal crashes. The danger is nothing new. A crash in the same area killed Glenn Phillips two decades ago.

"We would just really like to say we miss our dad and this shouldn't have happened. This should have been fixed years and years and years ago," said his daughter Terry Davis.

A community group that has gained thousands of supporters online has been pushing for months to get the project back on the priority list for Caltrans.

The group includes local and state elected officials like Assemblyman Jim Patterson, who hopes new banners set up Friday will constantly remind the state agency of the serious danger that remains from Elkhorn to Excelsior.

"It's a sign that we're not going to give up. It's a sign that we are together on this and we will continue to organize, agitate, call on people who have the funds and the ability to say yes and stop telling us no, wait or maybe," said Patterson.

The long-delayed widening project is now scheduled for 2025. But a concrete barrier or divider could be put in late next summer to that could make it a little less dangerous.

The grassroots effort is growing. Farmers have donated their land and equipment to put large signs up along the highway. And others are also pitching in money to help get the word out to make this six-mile stretch safer.
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