FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) — It’s a milestone for advocates of the Highway 41 completion project.
On Tuesday, Caltrans announced they are going to build what’s expected to be a 4.5-mile barrier along a deadly stretch of the highway between Elkhorn Avenue and Excelsior Avenue.
“Today is the first day of a long haul,” said Lee Ann Eager with the California Transportation Commission.
Members of the community and local government have been pushing for change along this stretch for years. According to the California Highway Patrol, it’s seen six fatalities over the past two years. Five of them are a result of driving on the wrong side of the road.
The barrier will go up between the northbound and southbound lanes.
Families of those who’ve died along this stretch of Highway 41 say it’s about time.
“We’ve carried this weight on our shoulders a long time,” said Lorna Roush, who lost her cousin’s husband to a head-on collision in September. She’s been actively trying to widen the highway since the accident.
Roush says the barrier is a temporary solution to head-on collisions, but the fight isn’t over.
“I will relax when it’s four lanes. I’m not going away. Our group isn’t going away. The victims aren’t going away. Those families are living with this every day,” Roush said.
Widening the highway would cost $65 million– $20 million is expected to come from the California State Transportation Agency and $35 million from Caltrans. The project ultimately needs to be added to the state’s transportation improvement plan for 2022.
“We will not accept anything else but it’s completion,” said Assembly member Jim Patterson.
On Wednesday, the Fresno County Transportation Authority Board will consider funding some of this completion project. Barrier construction is expected to last until mid-August.