MOUNTAIN AREA — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) says that one-way traffic control will will cease on State Route 41 north of Oakhurst, as crews get a holiday break during the massive tree removal project taking place in Madera and Mariposa counties.
Typically, one-way traffic control takes place each day from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. at various locations along the corridor, with closure zones up to one-mile long inside of a five-mile tree removal area. Traffic can be help up at least 20-minutes at a time while fallen trees are removed from the roadway.
However, due to the upcoming Christmas and New Year holidays, tree removal is on hiatus starting at noon on Friday, Dec. 23, through noon on Tuesday, Dec. 27. Operations will not take place during that time.
In addition, crews will not be working and operations will not take place from noon on Friday, Dec. 30 through noon on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017.
We’ll update when the schedule resumes.
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.
Crews are started the project on the north end of SR-41 in Mariposa, at the higher elevations, and are heading south as the weather pushes them and the project progresses. Last week crews were observed around Tenaya Lodge and this week in the vicinity of the Narrow Gauge Inn.
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.