Letters to the Editor

Viewpoint: Highway 46 widening will benefit public

Caltrans is very proud of the ongoing roadwork for the Highway 46 widening project east of Paso Robles.

When it is completed later this year, this five mile section of Highway 46 from Airport Road to Geneseo Road will be widened from a single lane in each direction to two lanes in each direction. This will significantly improve the safety and traffic flow for motorists who travel this busy east-west corridor.

Caltrans recently redirected motorists onto the newly constructed lanes along Highway 46. This temporary condition will allow Caltrans to improve the condition of the existing two lanes and complete wildlife crossings and drainage systems. At the end of construction, all four lanes of Highway 46 will receive a final asphalt layer of pavement providing a smooth ride for the public.

I can assure everyone this project is being constructed with an emphasis on safety for the traveling public. I would ask that motorists remain patient and cautious as we work to improve safety in this corridor. There are many challenges anytime you perform a major widening project with live traffic. The decision to temporarily detour traffic onto these new lanes was done after thorough and thoughtful analysis with motorist and worker safety as our top priority.

During this project, we have maintained local road and driveway access to the highway in order to minimize delays for homeowners, schools and businesses along the corridor. We have responded to every concern throughout the project construction. Our staff continues to brief elected officials, attend community meetings and answer questions about the project.

And as a recent Tribune article pointed out, this “green” project is being constructed with great emphasis on protecting the surrounding environment and minimizing its carbon footprint (“Highway 46 project near Paso continues,” Dec. 28).

This project is part of a long-term, multi-million dollar program to widen Highway 46 all the way to Highway 99 in Kern County. The result will be a much safer, four lane divided highway which will also ease congestion for the many commuters, tourists and truckers who travel to and from the Central Coast. Roadwork on the second phase of the Highway 46 widening in Whitley Gardens is expected to begin later this year pending final approval. Another project on Highway 46 in Lost Hills is under way.

As always, I ask the public to “slow for the cone zone” when driving through any highway work zone. Caltrans appreciates your patience and understanding during the construction process.

Rich Krumholz is the Caltrans District Director.