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Dangerous Stretch of Route to Central Coast Gets $136M for Expressway Conversion

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State allocated $136 million to upgrade Highway 46 from the Shandon rest area to the Jack Ranch Cafe. (GV Wire Composite/Paul Marshall)
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A dangerous stretch of Highway 46 heavily traveled by motorists between the Valley and the Central Coast will become a four-lane expressway, Caltrans officials announced.

The California Transportation Commission has allocated $136 million to upgrade Highway 46 from west of the Shandon rest area to east of the Jack Ranch Cafe in San Luis Obispo County. That is a distance of about nine miles.

Once known as “Blood Alley,” the route between Kettleman City and Paso Robles has seen significant upgrades through the years. Construction could start on the four-lane expressway as early as this spring, Caltrans officials said.

In a Facebook post on Friday, Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo) called the funding a “major win for our community. This section of Highway 41/46 is one of the most dangerous stretches of road in California and deserves attention.”

The trip from the Valley to the coast also could become safer for motorists if Congress allocates a requested $20 million from the $978 billion infrastructure bill to expand Highway 41 between Elkhorn and  Excelsior avenues to two lanes in each direction in Fresno County.

Fixes Coming for Highway 99, I-5

Caltrans also announced funding for improvements on Highway 99 in Madera County and I-5 near Mendota.

A $26 million project will replace bridges near the city of Madera over Cottonwood Creek at three locations.

A $36 million project will repair I-5’s pavement one mile south of Kamm Avenue to 0.2 of a mile south of Panoche Road.

CTC Allocates $589 Million

The CTC allocated a total of $589 million for projects to repair and improve transportation infrastructure. Senate Bill 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017, accounts for $302 million – more than half of the funding.

“This investment follows our ‘fix-it-first’ commitment to repair California’s aging infrastructure, while at the same time increasing transit and active transportation options,” said Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin. “These projects will make our transportation system safer and more convenient for all users and create thousands of good-paying jobs in the process.”

SB 1 invests $54 billion over the next decade to fix roads, freeways, and bridges and puts more funding toward transit and safety. These funds will be split equally between state and local investments.

You can see the latest round of funded projects throughout the state at this link.

 

Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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