The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) held a groundbreaking ceremony for a $43 million project May 9 that will convert approximately 2 mi. (3.2 km) of state Route 99 from a four-lane expressway to a six-lane freeway on an alignment that will allow for future growth.
The project is being funded by Proposition 1B, a $19.9 billion transportation bond that was championed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and approved by voters in November 2006. It is part of the governor’s overall $42 billion infrastructure-improvement program for transportation, education, housing, levee repair, flood control and parks. The proposition plays an important role in creating jobs, preserving quality of life and growing the state’s economy, according to Caltrans.
Caltrans Director Will Kempton, addressing the citizens and elected officials, acknowledged the governor for leadership on rebuilding California and for allowing this project to move to construction through Proposition 1B funding. When completed, the project will improve safety by closing four at-grade crossings.
“This project is exactly what voters wanted when they approved Proposition 1B,” Gov. Schwarzenegger said. “State Route 99 is a lifeline through our most important agricultural region, and this project will relieve traffic congestion, improve air quality, enhance safety and give a boost to California’s economy.”
Other speakers at the event included Stacie Dabbs, representative, United States Congressman Dennis Cardoza’s office; Kristine Hansen, representative, State Senator Jeffrey Denham’s office; Mary Ward, representative, State Assembly Member Cathleen Galgiani’s office; Mike Nelson, chairman, Merced County of Governments, Governing Board; Deidre Kelsey, supervisor, District 4, Merced County Board of Supervisors; and Mayor Joan Faul, city of Merced.