Motorists should brace themselves for more closures as crews work on building the $55 million Pelandale Avenue interchange at Highway 99 in north Modesto.
The city will close the southbound highway offramp at Pelandale from Tuesday through May 18 and close the Pelandale Avenue-Sisk Road intersection for 50 hours from 10 p.m. May 15 through midnight May 17.
CityPublic Works Director Bill Sandhu said the offramp closure is necessary so crews can work on part of the ramp that connects to the interchange’s bridge, which spans the highway. He said the intersection needs to be closed so crews can reconstruct it, which includes opening new traffic lanes, connecting lanes from the bridge to the intersection, and reconstructing the roadway.
He said both closures are part of the project’s schedule.
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Sandhu said he understands this will affect traffic and nearby businesses. Several businesses, especially those along Salida Boulevard, have complained about losing sales during the project as drivers avoid the area.
Sandhu said the city is trying to mitigate the most recent closures through such measures as putting up signs alerting drivers of detours and meeting with the businesses in the area. City workers started going from business to business Wednesday and expect to complete the notifications before Tuesday’s offramp closure.
The area is a retail hub for Modesto, with the Wood Colony Plaza shopping center at the southeast corner of the Pelandale-Sisk intersection and the Northpointe Shopping Center – which includes the city’s only Costco warehouse – at the northeast corner. The area draws a lot of drivers.
A 2008 traffic study for the interchange project estimated 10,900 vehicles a day would use the Highway 99 southbound offramp and about 40,000 vehicles a day would drive through the Pelandale-Sisk intersection once the project was completed. Sandhu said the actual traffic counts are lower because some drivers are avoiding the area during construction.
“It’s just been a long project and it’s been a long time in coming,” said Mary Ramirez, marketing specialist for the Yogurt Mill, which has a store in Wood Colony Plaza. “I just think all of us, the businesses and the customers, are ready for it to be completed.”
Modesto started construction in May 2014 and expects to finish by the end of this year. Sandhu said the project is on schedule and on budget. Workers demolished the interchange’s old bridge last summer and motorists have been using the new one as work continues on the project. The new interchange will have twice the capacity of the old one, which opened in 1970 when Modesto’s population was about a third of what it is today.
Ramirez said business was down when the project started but has picked up as drivers have learned to deal with the project and its closures, detours and delays. She’s looking forward to the new interchange. The old one, she said, “was really cramped. The work they have done so far is looking beautiful.”
Kevin Valine: 209-578-2316