CORCORAN, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – A major roadway in and out of the city of Corcoran is now open for everyone.
Levee breaches and the return of the old Tulare Lake, flooded many of the roads there, and leaders have requested the California High-Speed Rail Authority open East Whitley Avenue to the general public.
Highway 137 or East Whitley Avenue was set to be closed for construction for the better part of this year while work on the high-speed rail project continued, but through a request from city and county leaders, the road is now open.
“A lot of our access routes right now are not usable just due to the flooding,” said Greg Gatzka, city manager with the city of Corcoran.
A map of the city shows lots of roads in red that are flooded and closed as of Monday morning, including Highway 43.
“When you look at the map that shows all the road closures to the south and the west of Corcoran, this is critical to now have this road open,” said Richard Valle, the district 2 supervisor of Kings County.
“We reopened up the roundabout to eastbound Whitley Avenue right here, to make it safer to get, out of town,” said Gatzka.
Gatzka and Valle combined efforts with the California High-Speed Rail Authority, to get Highway 137 paved and drivable within just a few days’ time.
“When we see communities being flooded out, yes our project is important, yes we have a target, yes we want to do this, but it’s not as important as someone’s livelihood and their health and safety,” Garth Fernandez said.
Fernandez is the Central Valley Regional Director of the High-Speed Rail Authority.
According to Fernandez, not only did state contractors help repair East Whitley Avenue but also allowed some of their construction sites to flood to help ease the flooding in other areas.
“Getting the approval from the high-speed rail authority to go ahead and open back up,” said Valle.
That was supervisor Valle on Friday, with the unpaved E Whitley Ave. road behind him. Now, he has a sense of relief that this critical access road for the city of 22,000 is open and ready.
“With as much water as we have around the community of Corcoran, it’s critical to the safety and the residents of Corcoran that they have routes to leave, and come in,” he said.
The road will remain open in the meantime. The high-speed rail authority did not say how long the flooding will delay their projects.