FRESNO, California (KSEE/KGPE) – In front of the California Transportation Commission, Central Valley leaders demanded the return of funds slated for improvement projects along Highway 99 in Madera and Tulare counties.
“This is an opportunity for those of us who drive regularly and know the problems when it’s not wide enough and it doesn’t have three lanes north, three lanes south, to basically give this commission an earful,” Assemblyman Jim Patterson said.
This all comes after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order in September directing more funds toward railways and projects that would reduce the use of automobiles. In October, the California Department of Transportation released its Interregional Transportation Improvement Program draft, and projects to widen Highway 99 in Madera & Tulare were not included.
Patterson said the $17 million earmarked for the projects on Highway 99 and for the portion of Highway 46, known as “Blood Alley” is badly needed.
“If there was ever a stretch of California highway that deserves to be widened and improved, it is this stretch of 99 and we’re gonna say ‘give us the money back and build it like you promised,’” Patterson said.
The California Transportation Commission had held two previous meetings to hear public feedback on the proposed draft, but the closest one to residents here was Modesto. It wasn’t until Assemblyman Jim Patterson called for one in Fresno that the local community was able to express its concerns.
“The important thing is to keep everything the way it was before, to not delete these vital projects in the valley,” Brett Frazier, Madera County Board of Supervisors chairman, said.
Bruce DeTerra with the California Department of Transportation presented the draft today and heard public comments, writing down notes as each person went up to the podium.
“I hope that they hear what we’re saying,” Frazier said.
DeTerra announced the comment period has been extended to Nov. 25. To express concerns, email OCIP@DOT.CA.GOV.