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Shaw Avenue Highway 99 Interchange Poised for Upgrade. How Long Will the $120M Fix Take?
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By Edward Smith
Published 2 months ago on
February 14, 2024

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Upgrading Highway 99 interchange at Shaw Avenue could cost $120 million.

Caltrans highway interchange projects typically take seven years, provided all funding is secured.

City fixing Shaw Avenue potholes. High-Speed Rail adding grade separation at Shaw and Golden State Blvd.


The city of Fresno requested $5 million from the federal government to begin the design and environmental work to improve the outdated Highway 99 interchange at Shaw Avenue.

Politicians, drivers, and bikers alike have long bemoaned the dangers and limitations of Shaw Avenue’s overpass, on-ramps, and off-ramps over Highway 99.

The city, in partnership with Caltrans, hopes to begin modernizing the interchange, adding bike lanes, improving sidewalks, and better connecting neighborhoods west of Highway 99 to the city’s interior.

Beyond Highway 99, the city is also working to fix potholes while the California High-Speed Rail Authority will add an overpass to Shaw Avenue at Golden State Boulevard.

Fresno City Councilman Mike Karbassi, whose district encompasses the Shaw Avenue interchange, said that given the growth west of Highway 99, the project is long overdue.

“This should have been done 20, 30, 40 years ago,” Karbassi said. “I mean, you’ve seen how Veterans Boulevard has really reduced commute times, how important infrastructure is. That road is not just about getting to 99. That’s the gateway to Kerman. People use Shaw Avenue.”

Highway 99 interchange at Shaw Avenue (GoogleMaps)

Upgrades Will Cost $120 Million, Might Be Done in 7 Years

The Shaw Avenue overpass is one of the most congested interchanges in the city, said Scott Mozier, director of Fresno’s Public Works Department.

With the exception of two traffic signals added 25 years ago, the Shaw Avenue overpass and freeway ramps are the same as they were when they were built 60 years ago, Mozier said.

“Obviously, the city of Fresno and this entire region had a much, much smaller population (then),” Mozier said.

The $5 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity program — if accepted — would fund the design of the upgrades and the necessary environmental impact report, Mozier said.

The $1.5 billion fund from U.S. DOT is going to infrastructure projects around the country.

Designers will need to know how many lanes to add. They’ll also be responsible for drawing up drainage, landscaping, and the ramps.

A typical interchange project from Caltrans takes seven years, provided all the funding is secured, Mozier said.

Part of the reason the recently opened Veterans Boulevard took four decades to build was securing funding.

A feasibility study from the city estimates $120 million for the work.

Mozier expects federal and state funding for the project as well as impact fees from housing and commercial development to fund the project.

Given the public’s reliance on Shaw Avenue, Karbassi said he wanted to make sure the street isn’t completely closed while work occurs. Excess flow would greatly impact the Ashlan Avenue and Veterans Boulevard overpasses, he said.

City of Fresno crews fix potholes on Shaw Avenue, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024. (GV Wire/Edward Smith)

Shaw Getting Potholes Fixed, Grade Separation at Golden State

A $1.8 million grant will go toward fixing potholes on Shaw Avenue from Highway 99 to Palm Avenue, making the total investment in Shaw Avenue roads $5 million in the first quarter of 2024 Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer said at a news conference Tuesday. Dyer said motorists have long complained about work needed on the arterial.

“We are committed — the city council and myself — to making sure Shaw Avenue is a smooth roadway, a safe roadway, and a roadway people can take pride in,” Dyer said.

Additionally, the California High-Speed Rail Authority will add a grade separation to Golden State Boulevard, Fresno City Council President Annalisa Perea said.

According to the Rail Authority, the upgrade will reduce noise and traffic congestion. Work will begin as early as spring and go through the first quarter of 2026.

The work would improve east-west mobility and traffic flow.

“Golden State will be pushed over and there can be no gated crossings on a high-speed rail line. There can be no gated crossings, so every street must either go over, under, or be closed,” Mozier said. “Shaw Avenue cannot be closed. No one would ever think of doing that.”

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Edward Smith,
Multimedia Journalist
Edward Smith began reporting for GV Wire in May 2023. His reporting career began at Fresno City College, graduating with an associate degree in journalism. After leaving school he spent the next six years with The Business Journal, doing research for the publication as well as covering the restaurant industry. Soon after, he took on real estate and agriculture beats, winning multiple awards at the local, state and national level. You can contact Edward at 559-440-8372 or at Edward.Smith@gvwire.com.

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