MOUNTAIN AREA — Commuters and others who travel the Highway 41 corridor in the Coarsegold area take note: crews will continue work on the hazard tree removal project for the four to five weeks, according to Caltrans. Delays may be up to 30 minutes, depending on the amount of traffic.
The massive project, which is expected to last at least through February and likely beyond, depending on available funding, was earlier stationed at the north end of Highway 41 closer to Yosemite. Now that winter has impacted work to the north, the Caltrans crews have moved south from Fish Camp into the area between Coarsegold and Oakhurst.
Burkarth explains that crews are able to work in rain and snow quite often, but recent storms have saturated the soil so much in the Fish Camp area and farther north that conditions in that region are unsafe for workers.
Instead, crews will be working along Highway 41 from Coarsegold up towards Oakhurst, on Tuesday through Friday this week, between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. The project is expected to continue this way for the next four to five weeks, according to Caltrans.
When trees are dropped in the hazard tree removal process, traffic is stopped for a limited time in both directions to accommodate the action.
Crews will be stopping traffic for 10-15 minutes at a time during this phase of the project, Burkarth says. A 10-15 minute stoppage could mean some motorists will sit in traffic for up to 30-minutes, depending on traffic volume.
Last week, on the project’s first day in this location, some drivers sat for what they say was up to an hour. Caltrans responds that the contractor believes they have resolved those issues and expects traffic control to run smoothly.
While Burkarth says Caltrans regrets the inconvenience the activity will cause, it’s unavoidable on a project like this.
To play it safely, commuters may want to build an extra 30-minutes into their travel time for the duration of the project.