MERCED COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- The California Department of Transportation is expected to close several on and off-ramps along Highway 99 in Merced County.
Caltrans says drivers should expect a 5 to 10-minute delay and use alternate routes whenever possible.
The closure is for a pavement project that is expected to end by January 20th, but Caltrans officials say that could change depending on traffic incidents.
Drivers in Merced County say those traffic incidents happen way too often.
"It's the worst highway that I've experienced, and I've been around so many accidents. There's so many deaths," said Victor Duran, an Atwater resident.
Duran says when he's forced to drive on this stretch of Highway 99, he is usually stuck in traffic.
"If I would have stayed on the freeway, it would have been another 45 minutes," Duran explained.
For others, they avoid the highway altogether.
"I'm very afraid of the freeway. There's like so many accidents. So, I try to go elsewhere," said Giselle Torres, a Merced resident.
Their fear is valid. The stretch of 99 in Merced County was a web for car crashes in 2023.
On May 25th, just days after Caltrans installed a tunnel lane with a K-rail barricade, this truck carrying liquid fertilizer overturned, which delayed drivers for several hours.
Five days later, a big rig carrying 40,000 pounds of frozen food crashed near the start of the lane split.
Then, on July 20th, 58-year-old Maria Guzman Aguilar was driving on Highway 99 when a big rig's tire and axle came off, hopped over the lanes and hit her truck, killing Aguilar.
Six months later, her daughter, Nentali Loaiza, fights back tears as she explains she's still lost without her mother.
"So everybody's birthday came up, and holidays came up, and my mom wasn't here...I'm sorry," said Loaiza.
She urges officials to speed up the construction process.
"They could be saving lives. They could have avoided so many accidents and so many people's lives being lost," Loaiza said.