FRESNO COUNTY, California. (KSEE) – It’s a setback Central Valley officials did not want to see. The California State Transportation Authority has signaled it may not support widening Highway 41 after refusing to sign a federal funding request that would go towards expanding the highway from two to four lanes on the border of Fresno and Kings County.
“Their denial will, in fact, cost lives. They are leaving the Central Valley drivers with a dangerous, deadly, incomplete highway,” Assemblyman Jim Patterson said.
The push to widen Highway 41 came towards the end of last year after several fatal accidents. However, Patterson says the highway was always supposed to be four lanes but was neglected by the state.
“We are not adding capacity to Highway 41. We are completing the capacity that’s already there,” Patterson said.
According to Fresno County Transportation Authority Chief Mike Leonardo, the project would cost $65 million. He estimated $35 million could be taken care of through CALTRANS, and the federal funding request to the state was for $20 million.
“The state has got to step up to the plate and provide this additional funding,” Leonardo said.
So far, local officials have successfully turned the five miles on Highway 41 between Elkhorn and Cxcelsior into an official “no passing zone,” and CALTRANS is going to start installing temporary concrete barriers next month. However, the fight to fully expand the highway is not over.
“I am requesting a meeting with Governor Newsom’s Transportation Secretary David Kim. It is the completion of a project that’s long overdue,” Patteson said.