Drivers on Highway 180 will have to adapt to more changes as construction crews take another step toward completing Caltrans' "braided ramps" project in central Fresno.
Weather permitting, the Highway 41 connector ramps onto eastbound Highway 180 will be closed starting Friday night at midnight, as will two of the three eastbound lanes of Highway 180 between highways 41 and 168. When the ramps and freeway reopen at about noon Saturday, drivers who are moving from southbound Highway 41 onto eastbound 180 will be routed onto a new stretch of pavement, crossing under a new bridge before they merge onto 180.
It's all part of ongoing work by contractor R&L Brosamer to relieve the criss-cross merging that has been a hallmark of the interchanges of Highways 180, 41 and 168 in central Fresno.
"This is going to be a huge improvement," California Highway Patrol Capt. Dave Paris said Wednesday. "The transition should be much smoother than the past."
Pat Hinterberger, assistant project manager for contractor R&L Brosamer Inc., said southbound 41-to-eastbound 180 is the only traffic that will be affected by this weekend's conversion. "They'll be coming underneath the (new) bridge and merging with 180 farther east," he said.
Of the three lanes of eastbound 180, only the farthest-left lane will remain open Friday night and Saturday morning, as will the eastbound ramp onto Highway 168.
Rain could stall the work, however. "If it rains, we'll try and go on Sunday," Hinterberger said. "Everything's all weather-dependent."
Drivers heading south on 41 when the work is being done will have to exit onto surface streets and find their own way to eastbound 180.
The bridge that will eventually carry traffic from eastbound Highway 180 onto Highway 168 -- and over the merging Highway 41 drivers -- won't be open until mid-January, Hinterberger added.
Similar traffic-pattern changes took place last month for the westbound lanes of Highway 180. More changes are in store in December on westbound 180, when a new connector ramp is opened to carry traffic from the highway onto southbound Highway 41.
The $49 million project is intended to reduce the merging congestion and confusion that often clog the 1.4-mile stretch of Highway 180 in both directions during peak commuting hours. Work began in mid-2012 and is expected to be completed next spring.
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