Road projects in county show progress

rgiwargis@mercedsunstar.comFebruary 27, 2013 

— A state transportation official provided updates on all five major construction projects in Merced County during Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting.

"If you know what's going on, you can plan for it," said Caltrans senior resident engineer Laura Gordon, before laying out the county's five largest projects:

Bradley Overhead Project -- Gordon said crews are in the process demolishing the old bridge in the $22.8 million project, which replaces the bridge and widens the road from two to four lanes along Highway 140.

The old bridge is out of service and traffic is being detoured to a portion of the new bridge, she said.

Gordon called the bridge the "most difficult" she's ever seen because a train travels between the columns. The new bridge, which is two-thirds wider, will have a pedestrian walkway. The project, which began in June 2011, starts at Marthella Avenue and ends east of Santa Fe Avenue.

Plainsburg Road Freeway Project -- Caltrans has permanently closed eastbound Sandy Mush Road from Highway 99 to Plainsburg Road as well as the median crossing on Highway 99 at Sandy Mush. Eastbound and westbound traffic will be rerouted onto Plainsburg Road, Gordon said.

The $118.7 million project will construct a new interchange at Plainsburg Road and convert a four-lane expressway to a six-lane freeway from the Madera County line to Buchanan Hollow Road in Merced County.

Caltrans officials said the project, which began in December 2012, will ease congestion, decrease travel times and enhance safety for Merced County drivers.

Arboleda Drive Project -- Gordon called this $128.1 million project the "biggest" that she oversees. She said crews will try leaving the Arboleda Drive at-grade crossings open as long as they can, but will need to eventually close them all, with the Pioneer at-grade crossing scheduled to close by late May.

This project builds a new interchange on Highway 99 at Arboleda and converts a four-lane expressway to a six-lane freeway from Buchanan Hollow Road to the Miles Creek Overflow. The work began in June and is expected to be completed in June 2015.

East Merced Project -- The $32.4 million project installs a concrete median barrier, and replaces the bridge decks on the 15th Street undercrossing and the East Merced overhead structures. Gordon said Highway 140 between the east Merced overcrossing and 15th Street, as well as and G Street onramps, are closed and won't reopen midsummer.

Construction on the project started June 11, 2012, and is scheduled to be completed in January 2016.

West Merced Project -- Gordon said this project replaces the West Merced overhead bridge and improves vertical sight distance to give drivers more visibility.

As a result, the 16th Street on- and off-ramps are closed. They are scheduled to reopen June 30.

Reporter Ramona Giwargis can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or rgiwargis@mercedsunstar.com.

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