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Work continued on Monday, Dec. 9, at roundabout construction site (photo by Leonard Andrenacci)

Wet Weather Delays Completion of NF Roundabout

NORTH FORK — Mother Nature has tapped the brakes on North Fork’s highly anticipated new roundabout.

The recent series of storms — including a rare “bomb cyclone” — has forced contractors on the job to slow the pace of work, according to Ahmad Alkhayyat, Madera County’s director of public works.

Construction of Madera County’s first public roundabout began in mid-June and was on schedule and set to be completed before Thanksgiving — “barring any unforeseen circumstances,” Alkhayyat said in mid-October.

But the so-called “atmospheric river” weather pattern pummeling the area seems to qualify as “unforeseen circumstances” and county officials now expect to wrap up the project the week before Christmas.

The main reasons for the delay, according to Alkhayyat: “Weather and material procurement. But mostly the weather.”

“The roundabout has actually been open to traffic since November 22 but we’re now looking at everything being completed by December 20,” Alkhayyat said Monday morning as work crews at the site mopped up following another wet weekend.

“A little more paving and concrete work” is scheduled to be done this week, Alkhayyat added. “But the roundabout is conceptually complete. What’s left on our punch list is basically erosion control, striping and signage.”

The county’s first public traffic circle has been a big deal in a small town that still does not have a single stop light.

The high-profile $1.97 million project has transformed the intersection of Roads 225 and 274, previously an unconventional three-way stop.

Fresno-based American Paving has served as general contractor on the project, which was funded by a federal clean air grant and local Measure T dollars.

Madera County supervisors OK’d the project earlier this year, with District 5 Supervisor Tom Wheeler as one of the roundabout’s most vocal proponents. But there was considerable public debate over whether North Fork needed — or wanted — the new circular intersection.

A new sign next to the roundabout pointing the way to the Sierra Mono Museum, which has been closed while undergoing a $700,000 renovation and expansion, is also expected to be installed before the museum re-opens.

Alkhayyat said an area of the roundabout has been prepared for the sign but the county is still waiting to hear from the Tribe about when installation will take place.

Alkhayyat also said Monday that county officials do plan to hold a formal roundabout ribbon cutting but a date for that ceremony has yet to be set.

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