MOUNTAIN AREA — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) confirms that one-way traffic control will continue this week on State Route 41 in Mariposa County as part of a tree removal project taking place in Madera and Mariposa counties.
The following one-way traffic control will take place (weather permitting):
- Beginning Monday, Nov. 7 and ending on Friday, Nov. 11, one-way traffic control will be in effect within a five-mile stretch on SR-41 in Mariposa County, beginning at the Madera/Mariposa county line. This one-way traffic control will be in effect each day from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m., and the closure zones will be up to one-mile long inside of the five-mile tree removal area. Traffic will be held for up to about 20-minutes at a time while fallen trees are removed from the roadway.
Closures may continue for longer periods of time each day if necessary, due to delays caused by weather or uncontrollable events that may occur during this project. These scheduled closures will occur, weather permitting. Commuters are reminded to obey flagging personnel and pay close attention to maintenance vehicles and personnel at all times.
The work is part of a planned 150-day, $5-million dollar tree removal project which began on Monday, Oct. 3. As of that date, 2,300 trees on SR-41 and an additional 188 trees on SR-49 had been marked for removal.
According to Caltrans spokesman Cory Burkharth, the timing of the tree removal project was based on the desire to start once the busiest tourist season had ended, in order to minimize impact and maximize safety for residents, businesses and visitors along the corridor. Crews are starting the project on the north end of SR-41 in Mariposa, at the higher elevations, and will head south as the weather pushes them and the project progresses.
Homeowners in affected areas have been notified with requests for permission to allow crews onto their properties in order to safely remove the dead trees. Safety is the number one concern when it comes to this project, Burkarth says. The pine trees range in size from 100 – 200 feet tall and can potentially cause danger and disruption to the area.
The goal is to keep the road safe and allow businesses to remain open as the project continues. Caltrans’ Burkarth says they understand the delays can be frustrating and appreciates the public’s patience during traffic delays, as heavy machinery is required to lift the massive trees up the embankment and onto the road.
While initial expectations were for about 2,400 trees to be removed within the scope of this $5-million, 150-day project, Burkarth says that as of the start date, they were only four miles into marking trees along the ultimately 16-mile project and had already hit the 2,300 mark. Caltrans says the plan now is to continue to work with Sacramento on funding and to keep moving forward as funds become available.
The tree removal project is expected to continue into February, 2017, and Caltrans will provide regular updates as the project continues. In the meantime, travelers are asked to pay attention to Caltrans flags on the road and slow for the cone zone.