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Lovers Lane: An interchange that needs to change

Lovers Lane: An interchange that needs to change

@TheSunGazette

visalia – Lovers Lane and Highway 198 is the most frustrating interchange in Visalia. The intersection of two major east-west thoroughfares – Noble and Mineral King avenues – a major highway (198) and a major county connector (Lovers Lane) is more than just frustrating, it is dangerous.

Downsloping off-ramps leave highway traffic little notice if traffic is backed up. Lovers Lane traffic heading northbound and trying to take the westbound on-ramp must go through three lights and then deal with traffic turning left from Mineral King Avenue. Lovers Lane traffic heading southbound and trying to take the eastbound on-ramp must go through two lights and often miss an entire green light cycle to avoid being backed up into cross traffic on Mineral King.

The only good news about the interchange is that it’s going to change.

On May 26, the City of Visalia and California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) held a meeting to discuss proposed improvements to the interchange. More than 200 people attended to ask questions and provide input on three options for solving the problem. If you were among the thousands who were unable to attend, you can still put in your two cents on the $12.9 million project. Community comments on the project will be accepted until June 27. To submit a comment online, email Rebecca Keenan, P.E., City of Visalia Community Development Department Project Manager, at rebecca.keenan@visalia.city. You may also direct questions and comments to Curt Hatton, engineer with Caltrans, at curt.hatton@dot.ca.gov.

In order to solve congestion at the Lovers Lane interchange of Highway 198, the City and (CalTrans) are proposing improvements and changes at the intersections of Lovers Lane and Noble Avenue, Lovers Lane and Highway 198 eastbound ramp, Mineral King and Highway 198 westbound ramp and Lovers Lane and Mineral King. The proposed improvements include:

• Lovers Lane/Noble: Remove the raised median; add a second left-turn lane to the southbound and northbound approaches on Lovers Lane; construct a second eastbound lane; construct a westbound right-turn lane on Noble; reconstruct signals; upgrade existing ramps to current standards.

• Lovers Lane/Hwy 198: remove the raised median on Lovers Lane; construct a right-turn lane on the eastbound off-ramp; construct a right-turn lane on Lovers Lane for the eastbound on-ramp; reconstruct the signals; upgrade existing ramps to current standards.

• Lovers Lane Undercrossing: Remove raised median; extend existing left-turn lanes in both directions; remove existing return walls and sidewalks behind a curtain wall; add bike lanes; install dedicated right turn lane on Lovers Lane to Mineral King.

• Lovers Lane/Mineral King: Remove raised median on Lovers Lane; add a second southbound left-turn lane on Lovers Lane; construct a second eastbound receiving lane; reconstruct a northbound right-turn lane on Mineral King; reconstruct signals and upgrade ramps to current standards.

• Mineral King/Hwy 198: Add a westbound left-turn lane; construct a continuous right-turn lane from Mineral King to the highway westbound on-ramp.

In addition to these improvements, three alternatives were presented at the meeting:

• Alternative 1: Would leave Mineral King as a two-way east-west corridor. The intersection of Mineral King and the westbound on/off-ramps will have to stop but east/west traffic will not.

• Alternative 2: Close Mineral King to through traffic at Buck Road (Staff Drive) and reconstruct the westbound on/off-ramps. Westbound traffic on Mineral King would be re-routed north along McAuliff Street, then west along Mill Creek Parkway to Lovers Lane.

• Alternative 3: Do nothing.

For more information on this and other Capital Improvement Projects, visit the Community Development Department’s web site at visalia.city/depts/community_development/default.asp .

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