Work to improve the intersection will reduce traffic to one way on Goshen, create detours on Demaree between September and November
By Reggie Ellis @Reggie_SGN
VISALIA – Work to improve one of Visalia’s busiest and most congested intersections will begin later this month.
In May, the Visalia City Council unanimously approved a $3.8 million bid to widen and improve the intersection at Goshen Avenue and Demaree Street to create better traffic flow. The project will make improvements to the intersection for at least 400 feet in every direction which will include widening, upgrading the railroad crossing, replacing the signal lights, pedestrian and handicap accessibility upgrades. It also includes installing new conduit and fiber optic cable beneath the intersection which will connect to Ferguson Avenue. That connection will eventually provide real time information to assist with the overall traffic management along Demaree.
But for the next eight to 10 months, the intersection may be the worst it has ever been. The bid, awarded to Avison Construction, was more than $1 million over the engineer’s estimate. In order to bring down the price of the project, the city worked with Avison to come up with different phasing options that reduced the length of time major detours would be in place which cuts down on the cost of temporary signage and traffic control by 10 days.
Unfortunately, this also means the flow of traffic will be more restricted during major closures of the project. Between September and November, traffic will be reduced to one lane of travel at all times. The westbound lanes of Goshen and both north and southbound lanes of Demaree north of Goshen will be shut down for five weeks. Northbound traffic would be detoured to Akers Street or Mooney Boulevard.
The project will then close the eastbound lanes of Goshen and both north and southbound lanes of Demaree south of Goshen for another five weeks. Southbound traffic would be detoured to Akers and Mooney. The project is estimated to be completed by February 2019.
The original project would have provided more access to the intersection throughout construction, but would have cost about $210,000 more. The original project also included two alternate bids to extend the curb, sidewalk and driveway improvements on Demaree Street south of Goshen to Mill Creek Drive and a second project to extend the work from Mill Creek to Hillsdale Avenue. These projects were scratched due to cost.
The city has already invested more than $2 million into the project with the San Joaquin Valley Railroad for the widening of the at-grade crossing of Demaree Street across the railroad leased line property and with Southern California Edison for the relocation of underground electrical infrastructure.
The project is being paid for primarily with $1 million in Measure R funding, the half-cent transportation sales tax approved in 2006, Gas Tax and the city’s Transportation Impact fund.
The bid was awarded to Madera-based Avison Construction, the only contractor to submit a bid. When questioned by Councilmember Phil Cox, staff said they had contacted other contractors as to why they did not bid the project to which they replied the project was too complicated due to the adjacent railroad, the heavy vehicle traffic in the area, the many utilities in the area, and the adjacent land uses. They also noted there was a labor and material shortage due to the high speed rail project and that there was plenty of other easier projects that they were bidding on.