Highway 65 funded for $5.5mil roadway upgrade
By Paul Myers
exeter – Roads here at home are some of the worst for average commuters. Either the roads are cracked, pothole-riddled or not wide enough to handle the traffic. But as of Monday, July 3, the California Transportation Commission decided to allocate $593 million to 124 transportation projects that are intended to alleviate traffic delays, repair roads and bridges, and to encourage bicycling and walking. And while most times coastal metropolitan cities get the lion’s share of funding, this year Tulare County is getting a large chunk of funding for itself.
The County is set to receive $16.9 million for pavement rehabilitation and realignment of State Route 190 from west of State Route 99/190 Separation to west of Road 184. As well, Exeter will benefit from a $5.48 million allocation for pavement and rehabilitation on State Route 65, also known as Kaweah Avenue in the city limits.
The project will extend from State Route 137, also known as the Tulare-Lindsay Highway, all the way to Highway 198.
Exeter city manager Randy Groom said that it is great that the State is still investing in the current Highway 65 despite talks of moving the entire highway. And to his recollection, Groom says that it has been the better part of a decade since they did work on 65.
“It will be inconvenient, but well worthwhile. I know they haven’t done any significant work in the seven years I’ve been here. We are also doing a project funded under the Highway Safety Improvement Program that will improve the corners of quite a few Kaweah Avenue intersections through Exeter,” Groom added.
Commuters that drive south of Tulare County and into Kern County can count on some improved roads as well. According to a Caltrans news release, Bakersfield received $37.3 million for pavement rehabilitation and roadway upgrades to a five-mile segment of State Route 58 from Cottonwood Road to 0.3 mile east of 58/184 Separation to correct damage caused by winter storms and heavy freight traffic.
Bakersfield also received $26.8 million for pavement and shoulder rehabilitation of the southbound State Route 99 truck lane from Herring Road to Pacheco Road, replacing existing truck lane with 14-foot wide reinforced concrete pavement.
“These projects will help us maintain and modernize California’s transportation system,” said Caltrans director Malcolm Dougherty. “Each of these projects is an opportunity to improve safety, goods movement and access and mobility for all travelers in California.”
Allocations also include $75 million for 12 Traffic Congestion Relief Program projects that will relieve congestion, connect transportation systems and provide for better goods movement; $42.7 million from movement; $42.7 million from the Active Transportation Program for 53 biking and pedestrian projects; $30.8 million for four Transit and Intercity Rail Program projects; $28 million for 22 capital improvement projects both on and off the state highway system as part of the State Transportation Improvement Program.
The news release also indicates that this is an early thrust of Senate Bill 1 dollars. SB1 set to take effect in stages will begin on Nov. 1 of this year with a $0.12 per gallon tax increase. Other increases include a $0.20 per gallon tax increase on diesel excise tax, a $25 to $175 Vehicle License Fee based on the vehicle’s value and a new $100 annual vehicle registration fee applicable only to zero-emission vehicles model year 2020 and later.
According to the Bill’s text, SB1 would annually set aside $200,000,000 of the funds available for road maintenance and rehabilitation purposes.