Highway 180 to shift to new expressway near Centerville and Minkler

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Drivers will soon be changing lanes as traffic along this portion of State Route 180 will now shift from Kings Canyon Road onto a new expressway.

Caltrans road crews started to redirect traffic onto the new roadway near Centerville Monday evening.

Fresno County's half-cent transportation tax helped pay for the $55 million project, and the expressway is aimed at safer travels.

"We're putting in one extra lane in both directions," says Elizabeth Yelton with Caltrans District 6. "Two lanes in each direction is going to make it a safe route for travelers going to or from Sanger, or visitors going to Sequoia National Park."

For folks like Vicky Herkel of the Centerville Fruit stand, the new expressway could be the fast track to more business.

"I have a feeling this summer with all the tourists that travel up to Kings Canyon and Sequoia, I think we're going to be a lot busier than past years," Herkel said. "I'm excited about the new faces we'll be seeing this year."

Herkel says she was forced to relocate the business to a new site near Highway 180 and Academy because the new expressway bypasses the old location in Centerville.

"There have been so many head-on collisions," Herkel said. "It was a necessary expansion."

However, some nearby residents, like Denis Haas, worry the bypass will force businesses along the current route to close.

She also says the highway may not be as safe as drivers may think.

"Now you're going to have two lanes on both sides of traffic," Haas said. "It's going to be difficult to get kids to school. It's going to be dangerous without traffic lights."

While the new roadway is aiming to speed things up, there are still construction zones, which could cause up to 45-minute delays in some areas.
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