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Million-Dollar Traffic Signal Approved for NW Fresno
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By David Taub, Senior Reporter
Published 6 months ago on
October 23, 2023

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Traffic signals in Fresno are going for $1 million these days.

That is the latest cost the Fresno City Council approved, 7-0, at its meeting Thursday for a signal at Audubon Drive and Del Mar Avenue in northwest Fresno.

The traffic light project will be paid for with a grant funded by the San Joaquin River Conservancy.

The $1,016,680 bid from American Paving Co. of Fresno will provide not only the signal but also other improvements.

“This was a competitive bid and included the traffic signal plus associated striping and ADA curb ramp work. The $1 million price tag has become fairly typical for traffic signals these days as evidenced by other construction project bids,” said Fresno Public Works Director Scott Mozier.

American Paving was the low bid; one other company placed a bid but was deemed non-responsive after not turning in the required documentation.

Location of an approved $1 million traffic signal at Audubon and Del Mar. (GV Wire/David Rodriguez)

Increasing Access to San Joaquin River Trail

The traffic signal is one more step in opening up access to the San Joaquin River and the River West Eaton Trail.

Years of angst were at the feet of the San Joaquin River Conservancy, a state board consisting of local and state members tasked with deciding river access issues. The board approved three access points, including in the Riverview Drive area.

The plan will eventually include a 105-space parking lot, horse trailers, school bus drop-off locations, restrooms, and other park amenities.

How can a traffic signal cost that much? Mozier said that the prices for steel, controllers, cabinets, and labor have gone up in the past few years. He said the price has increased eight times in the last 30 years.

One construction expert said estimating the price for a traffic signal varies, depending upon the distance to power the traffic light, the size, and whether it is a new signal or not.

“While the price tag for this signal is a lot more than it would have been five years ago, it’s a small price to pay if it means increasing traffic safety and giving peace of mind to residents of the Audubon neighborhood. They have been trying to slow traffic on Audubon Drive for nearly 20 years and I’m going to get it done,” said Fresno City Councilman Mike Karbassi, who represents the area.

Mozier said the actual cost of the project will be $1.3 million. The extra $300,000 represents the city’s indirect costs for engineering, materials, and a contingency fund.

Council Votes to Demolish Building Near Ballpark

The Fresno City Council voted 7-0 to demolish a city-owned building in a parking lot across the street from Chukchansi Park.

The 400-foot-by-59-foot building in the 700 block of H Street was once a commercial warehouse but has been vacant for decades. The city had hoped to convert the building into a mixed-use facility.

Staff reports say neglect, break-ins, and structural problems made renovation plans too costly. A fire in June damaged the basement.

The city approved several demolition contracts totaling $1.3 million.

Above: The city of Fresno hoped a warehouse renovation project would one day look like this. The current building will now be demolished. (City of Fresno/Miguel Arias Facebook). Below: A current look at the warehouse on H Street, with Chukchansi Park in the background. (GV Wire/David Taub).

City Council Approves Living Health Facility

Despite objections from several neighbors, the city council denied an appeal and allowed a conditional use permit for a congregate living health facility in a northwest Fresno neighborhood.

On a 4-0 council vote, Infinite Living is now allowed to open a facility that will provide beds for those needing respiratory care on West Bullard Avenue, between North Van Ness Boulevard and North Forkner Avenue.

Neighbors appealed based on traffic concerns and environmental grounds.

Two councilmembers, Luis Chavez and Garry Bredefeld, recused themselves because they received more than $250 from an involved party. This is to comply with SB 1439, an anti-pay-to-play law that took effect his year.

Councilmember Mike Karbassi voluntarily abstained from discussion and a vote because of his professional relationship with attorney Brian Whelan, who represented Infinite Living at the hearing.

Whelan represented Karbassi in a legal matter last year.

Annalisa Perea, Miguel Arias, Tyler Maxwell, and Nelson Esparza voted to deny the appeal and allow the project to move forward.

 

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David Taub,
Senior Reporter
Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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