Highway 99 widening project between Madera County and Fresno completed

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A three-mile stretch of Highway 99 just got wider. Caltrans added a lane in both directions, just north of Fresno, taking the old four lanes of traffic to six.

Chris Paredes of the California Highway Patrol drove down Highway 99 in his patrol car on Friday to check out the new commute. "You have more mobility to move from one lane to another," he said.

There are six lanes, three in each direction between Avenue 7 and Grantland Avenue, just north of Fresno. It's a three-mile stretch Caltrans has been working on for two years, with $68 million budget through Prop 1B, all done in the name of highway safety and safe travels.

Caltrans director Malcolm Dougherty said, "We really wanna get to a minimum of three lanes up and down the Valley, when you only have two lanes, you're gonna get some level of congestion."

Caltrans and lawmakers gathered to celebrate the finished project. Some of them said a few words on a makeshift stage. "It's long overdue," State Assembly Member Frank Bigelow said. "Well the overdue part is done."

The project also included a new bridge over the San Joaquin River. It replaces a bridge that was built back in 1928. It sits a little more to the west and just like the three-mile stretch, it's wider.

Madera County Supervisor, Brett Frazier said it'll all be good for the commuters and truckers in his county and Fresno County. "To help goods, people, services move more easily through our Valley," he said.

Paredes says more lanes is definitely a good thing, but safety is still ultimately in the hands of each and every driver on the road. "Even as a motorist, you, when you have two lanes, then you have three lanes -- you still got to be aware of your surroundings," he said.

So far, Caltrans has widened roughly 50 miles of Highway 99 between Sacramento and Bakersfield.
Copyright © 2019 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.