The Biden administration said Wednesday morning that it is awarding $25 million to improve Highway 41 in Madera County.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the project will upgrade about four miles of the 41 south expressway from a two-lane rural highway to a four-lane limited-access expressway.
Additionally, the project will make other improvements to the area’s road network. These include:
- widening the Lateral 6.2 canal crossing near Avenue 15;
- constructing stormwater detention basins;
- raising the height of the new roadway and constructing at-grade intersections at Avenue 12 and Avenue 15;
- reserving right-of-way for a future freeway interchange at Avenue 12;
- and adding a widened and raised median between the canal and Avenue 15.
Federal officials say that the project will enhance freight movement and improve access to Yosemite National Park for visitors and park employees. It also will improve safety by upgrading travel lanes and road shoulders to meet Caltrans standards for freeways. And, the design will account for the heavy truck traffic, thus reducing peak-hour congestion and related emissions.
“This funding is critical to improving access to some of the fastest-growing communities in Madera County and the San Joaquin Valley,” said Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno. “I am proud to secure this federal grant to widen highway 41, enhance safety and address congestion along this critical transportation artery in our Valley.”
Funding comes from DOT’s new Rural Surface Transportation Grant Program.
The project is eligible for $94 million in future federal funding, the Biden administration said.
Biden Administration Focuses on Rural Roads
According to the DOT, about 13% of rural roads and 10% of off-system bridges, most of which are in rural areas, are in poor condition. And, the fatality rate on rural roads is twice that of urban roads.
“Infrastructure investments haven’t always reached rural America, leaving far too many roads, bridges, and other parts of the transportation system across our country in disrepair,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in a news release. “Today’s announcement is one of many ways this administration is delivering the investments that rural communities have gone without for far too long, modernizing transportation, creating economic opportunity, and making life better for millions of people.”
The program, which is new this year, will invest about $2 billion through 2026 for projects that improve highways, bridges, and tunnels, and bring flexible transit services to rural and tribal areas. The DOT says it received applications requesting approximately $10 billion in funding, far exceeding the nearly $300 million in 2022 funding available.
More information about this year’s Rural grant recipients is at this link.