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Black Friday shoppers near River Park find mostly smooth (but slow) sailing after roadwork

Traffic backs up on Blackstone Avenue at Herndon Avenue in north Fresno where several lanes in the area are closed due to construction on Friday, Nov. 25, 2016.
Traffic backs up on Blackstone Avenue at Herndon Avenue in north Fresno where several lanes in the area are closed due to construction on Friday, Nov. 25, 2016. ckohlruss@fresnobee.com

The road construction that caused headaches for Blackstone Avenue merchants and motorists near Fresno’s River Park is mostly finished, just in time for the Black Friday shopping rush.

Motorists on Friday encountered only a few right-lane closures, along with hordes of other drivers trying to snag a good deal along one of Fresno’s busiest retail corridors.

“Everybody should be fine,” said Mark Standriff, city of Fresno spokesman. “Things will be a little more congested because of Black Friday.”

The Fresno Police Department reported no major traffic problems or events along Blackstone Avenue on Friday morning.

Construction crews spent the last several weeks building and upgrading bus-stop pads along Blackstone Avenue from Manchester Center to River Park for the city’s FAX-Q Bus Rapid Transit line. The system will provide faster and more convenient rides.

The work improved a little bit of the grade of the street and allowed the city to add technology under the asphalt in that small bus stop section “so we can tell how quickly buses are moving,” Standriff said. “The idea is to get buses showing up every 10 minutes.”

Early Friday afternoon, the 5  1/2 -mile trip by car from Manchester to River Park took 32 minutes. Traffic flowed smoothly north on Blackstone from Manchester, where construction barricades were removed from the street and set on the sidewalk.

The congestion started at the intersection of Herndon Avenue, where cars waited through at least four red lights to get through. A small portion of the right-hand lane just north of Herndon, in front of the T-Mobile store, is blocked off. Motorists in the right lane have to turn right or hold up traffic trying to merge left. The lanes are clear the rest of the way to River Park.

Southbound Blackstone traffic moved faster, but beware of right-hand lane closures. Small sections of the lane where the bus pads will be are closed off, forcing motorists to merge to the left. Right turns can be made onto Sierra, Bullard and Rialto avenues.

No new construction is scheduled until January. There are a number of message boards on road shoulders that read “Businesses Open During Construction.”

BoNhia Lee: 559-441-6495, @bonhialee

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