Completion of widening project on Highway 99 in Madera delayed

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- If you've driven north of Fresno on Highway 99, you've seen the widening project aimed at easing the already exiting congestion upon completion.

Caltrans District 6 Public Information Officer, Larry Johnson says, "We're still widening one lane on each side north and southbound. It's going to make life easier for everyone in Madera once it's completed."

The $86 million project started in 2019 with the completion date set for July 1, but that's been pushed back for a number of reasons, including weather and a supply issue with rebar.

Johnson says, "Steel rebar that took some delays. Anytime there's accidents that cause delays with getting repairs done or EMS through the accident scene, we had to revise the drainage system."

But that's not the only slow down.

CalTrans estimates 80,000 vehicles pass through this stretch of highway each day.

In addition to a reduced speed limit of 55 miles per hour, between Avenues 12 and 17 you can find a center lane split causing confusion for drivers. Just one of the reasons Caltrans and CHP are urging drivers to stay aware of their surroundings.

"Workers are still going to be out there slow for the cone zone pay attention and that can alleviate some of the problems," said Johnson.

Completion can't come soon enough for commuters who say motorists fail to slow down for the cone zone.

When driving in the construction zone lane split, there's no shoulder for three miles. So what should you do if you get in an accident?

California Highway Patrol Officer Mike Salas says the last thing we want you to do is panic and strike one of those walls.

"Relax, for one. "If your car is movable, go ahead and start it and move it to a safe location. Make sure you and both parties get off the road. We don't want additional collisions caused by that slowing traffic."

If you can't move your car, stay inside, keep your seatbelt on and call 911.

Officer Salas adds, "There is a lane outside of the construction area for emergency vehicles, so we are able to respond to those areas as quick as we possibly can."

Caltrans tells Action News the construction is expected to be complete within the next five to six weeks.
Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.