A dangerous two-lane stretch of Highway 41 in south Fresno County will be changed to a no passing zone to help reduce accidents — some fatal —that have long plagued the roadway.
To complete the conversion, about six miles of the highway between Elkhorn Avenue and Excelsior Avenue will be shut down from 5 a.m to 5 p.m. on January 12.
Workers will replace the current center line with double yellow stripes. Crews will also add reflective markers along the roadway and post “no passing zone” road signs at regular intervals.
Traffic will be redirected onto Elm Avenue during the road closure.
“There are a solid and strong group of people who unfortunately have lived through some of the horror and the heartbreak of this particular dangerous stretch of of 41.”–Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R-Fresno)
The move comes after a group called ‘Widen 41‘ pushed Caltrans to upgrade the highway to a minimum of four lanes from Friant Road in Fresno to Bush Street in Lemoore. As it is now, both north and south lanes bottleneck to two lanes through the Elkhorn to Excelsior segment.
“This causes careless mistakes and extremely dangerous, impatient drivers which has taken the lives of way too many of our loved ones,” a commenter on the ‘Widen 41’ Facebook page wrote.
While the hope of getting the affected section of highway expanded to 4 lanes is still a ways off, officials say it’s a step in the right direction.
“There are a solid and strong group of people who unfortunately have lived through some of the horror and the heartbreak of this particular dangerous stretch of of 41,” said Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) during a news conference at the site Wednesday. “None of us are going to give up until we get to the finish line.”
No Passing Zone
“This five mile section of state Route 41 will permanently be transitioned to a no passing zone.”–Caltrans District 6 Director Diana Gomez
Caltrans will educate drivers to the change once it is completed.
“We will have temporary, changeable message signs which will remain in effect for several days after the project has been completed to alert motorists of these changes,” said Caltrans District 6 Director Diana Gomez.
The California Highway Patrol also plans to have extra patrols in the area to enforce the no-passing zone.
In response to the news, Lloyd Kite wrote on the ‘Widen 41’ Facebook page, “Well they are going to put the double yellow lines on 41. That will do for now but we have to keep pressuring for the center divider so they know we’re not going away.”
RIVERDALE/LATON AREA: Caltrans will be completing a maintenance project on State Route 41 between Excelsior Avenue and Elkhorn Avenue on Tuesday, January 12 between the hours of 5 a.m. and 5 p.m. Please see attached photos for additional information. pic.twitter.com/OkiR69AgcD
— Caltrans District 6 (@CaltransDist6) January 6, 2021
“We’ve got a long ways to go. And at the end of the trip, we will have four lanes built here.”–Fresno County Supervisor Buddy Mendes
Four Lanes Ahead
Fresno County Supervisor Buddy Mendes says he sees the change as a temporary fix. He said he’ll be working with the Fresno Council of Governments to press for widening the road.
“We just basically got in the car and started it up,” said Mendes. “We’ve got a long ways to go. And at the end of the trip, we will have four lanes built here,” Mendes said.
Mendes said the roadway has seen 260 accidents in 260 weeks. He called the statistic unacceptable.
California Transportation Commission member Lee Ann Eager said funding for the expansion project is on the top of her agenda for the funding body.
“We’ve been working on a lot of things over the last 10 years together,” the The CEO of the Fresno County Economic Development Corporation said. “This is a team that can get it done.”