MADERA COUNTY – The project to replace the bridge on Road 425B, just off Road 426, is about to get underway.
“We have the funding in place, the bridge is designed and ready to go,” said County Road Comissioner Johannes Hoevertsz. “We are awaiting a single audit to receive the state and federal funding, which we anticipate will take about two more weeks.”“The bridge is old and dilapidated,” said Tom Wheeler at a Town Hall meeting on Jan. 31. “It’s also too narrow. With all the building going on up there, we need to get this improvement done to handle all the traffic in that area.”
The bridge will be replaced in phases, so that motorists can continue to use the road while the project is underway. Hoevertsz expects completion within 4 to 6 months from the start of the project, which he anticipates will be within the month.
Other projects Hoevertsz’s department has been working on include the bridge at Yosemite Lakes Parkway, which is expected to be finished in 2 to 3 months.
They have also installed flashing beacons at the intersection of Road 426 and School Road (Road 427) to improve safety for kids coming and going from Oakhurst Elementary School.
“We’ve had a problem at that intersection with kids being able to cross the street safely,” says Hoevertsz. “We met with the school district and school representatives to discuss ideas, and have now installed a new warning system at that intersection.”
Hoevertsz says Madera is one of the first counties to install the new Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon on the crosswalk signs. When the button is pushed by someone waiting to cross the street, the beacons flash in the same way the lights on the back of CHP cars flash, and alert motorists to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk.
“It’s just one more way we have to help keep our kids safe,” says Hoevertsz.
One of the most interesting projects under consideration is the proposal to connect Teddy Bear Lane and Road 427 (School Road). There is currently no way to cross the Fresno River in Oakhurst, other than on Road 426, and this would help disburse traffic into other areas, and relieve congestion to and from the school zones.
“It falls under the category of circulation improvement,” says Hoevertsz. “Local residents would benefit a lot from this project. We plan to take it to the Madera County Transportation Commission for funding.”
The project would require a bridge over the Fresno River, the acquisition of needed rights-of-way, the necessary environmental work and of course, public support.
Another project slated to start soon is the completion of the sidewalk on the north side of Road 426 between the Talking Bear at Highway 41 and Road 427. They will be filling in the gaps where there is no sidewalk at this time. The project is expected to take 30-45 days to complete, and will get underway as soon as the funding is in place.
The County Road Department has also finished their Measure 8 project straightening Road 200 between Finegold Creek and O’Neals, and are now working to secure funding to replace the bridge at Finegold Creek. Hoevertsz says that could take several years.
Other projects in the works include creating more passing opportunities on Highway 41 between Road 200 and Avenue 12 to help alleviate congestion and streamline the commute. The County is also working with a developer to make the highway four lanes between Avenue 12 and Avenue 15, and Hoevertsz says Caltrans is working on creating a passing lane near the 22-Mile House.