Drivers on Tulare Street in downtown Fresno will have to deal with closures and detours for high-speed rail construction starting later this month near Chinatown. And nearby merchants are already fearful about how the work could affect their businesses.
Contractors for the California High-Speed Rail Authority will close Tulare Street between G and H streets for about nine months for the first stage of work to build a new street underpass that will ultimately carry traffic below the future high-speed train tracks and the existing Union Pacific Railroad freight tracks. The first and second stages of work on the underpass are expected to take up to two years.
Toni Tinoco, a spokeswoman for the rail agency, said traffic management plans are being reviewed by the city of Fresno and that work would start once the plans are approved.
“We’ve been meeting with businesses in Chinatown, continuously providing updates, additional signage, and getting people to understand how they can get to Chinatown,” said Diana Gomez, the regional director for the rail authority in the San Joaquin Valley. The rail authority has been working with the Fresno Economic Development Corp. to help businesses brace for the effects of closing one of the main traffic arteries that drivers use to get to the area.
As construction progresses, our contractor is out there communicating and meeting with businesses and making adjustments as they need to.
Diana Gomez, California High-Speed Rail Authority
Ventura Avenue, a main street a few blocks south of Tulare Street, will also face a closure for construction of a high-speed-rail underpass a few months after work begins on Tulare Street. Gomez said both streets will be closed simultaneously for at least a few months. “First we’ll start with Tulare, then a couple of months later we’ll start on Ventura,” she said. “In the meantime, Fresno Street will continue to be open, which feeds into Chinatown and feeds into downtown.”
Union Pacific railroad crossings at Kern and Mono streets, a pair of smaller roads between Tulare and Ventura, will eventually be permanently closed.