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Carmaggedon comes to Fresno

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Traffic on Highway 180 in Central Fresno is about to get worse. Starting Sunday, lane closures take effect, creating the possibility for some back-ups as Caltrans crews begin work on the braided ramp project.

Construction will start on the eastbound 180 lanes and then move its way to the westbound lanes between Highways 41 and 168.

The braided ramp projects meant to alleviate traffic congestion by creating a bypassing ramp along the 180. But before the $43 million project is completed, drivers on the highway will experience an extra traffic headache.

Fresno is about to have a Carmaggedon of its own, and it could last well into the summer months.

Neil Bretz said, "We're doing the best we can but there will be delays, we can promise you that."

Beginning this weekend, drivers heading eastbound on Highway 180 will see major changes as construction of the braided ramps goes into its traffic shift phase.

On Sunday, both the north and southbound Highway 41 connecting ramps to the 180 east will close for the day. And only one traffic lane between the 41 and 168 will be open.

"When we are done Sunday night, traffic will be different," Pat Hinterberger said. "The left fast lane, will now be riding on the left shoulder. And in general, where there are 5 lanes now, there will be 4 lanes."

Starting Monday morning, commuters will have one less lane to drive on until the project gets completed. The reduction in lanes will create a traffic nightmare, especially around rush hour.

"If you drive this, either in the morning or late afternoon, you know it's a challenge," Harry Armstrong said. "So if you bear with us for the next 6 months or maybe a little longer, we'll have this problem solved."

The braided ramps are being installed so drivers from the 41 and 168 can bypass the 180 altogether.

"We're separating the different movements with structures so they no longer have the weaving, they will be continually merging, but they will no longer we weaving action taking place."

And during construction, more CHP officers will be deployed to remind drivers to use extra caution around the construction zones.

Steven Robinson added, "We would like for motorists to slow down and be cognate of the construction workers and we will be looking for that."

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