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North McHenry is getting a makeover and safer bridge. Here’s what you need to know.

Stanislaus County and its partner to the north keep working on one of the region’s more important traffic projects north of Modesto.

Crews are almost two years into a three-year project to rebuild the Stanislaus River bridge on North McHenry Avenue. Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties plan other improvements on the 11-mile route between Modesto and Escalon, which sees an increasing amount of vehicle traffic.

Awni Taha, interim engineering services manager for San Joaquin County, said 17,000 linear feet of stone columns were installed for the new bridge over the river, which forms the boundary between the two counties. The columns sitting 25 to 30 feet in the ground will help stabilize the soil under the bridge in event of an earthquake, he said.

The east side of the bridge is completed and the deck was poured for the west side. The four-lane bridge with extra room for bicycles is on schedule for completion in summer 2020, Taha said.

In Stanislaus County, a wider North McHenry Avenue is being designed from Ladd Road to the bridge. Last week, county supervisors approved a $60,300 expenditure of regional transportation impact fees for buying property near the river for the wider roadway.

Chris Brady, deputy public works director for the county, said work on that stretch of McHenry is scheduled to start in spring 2020. The $13 million project will convert the road to five lanes — two lanes in each direction with a center turn lane.

Other improvements will include a culvert replacing a slough bridge and improved traffic signals at McHenry and Stewart Road.

Completing the North McHenry project is expected to take 12 to 18 months.

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Work continues of the bridge over the Stanislaus River on McHenry Avenue in Modesto, Calif., Thursday, April 4, 2019. Andy Alfaro aalfaro@modbee.com

San Joaquin County also plans traffic signals at the intersection of McHenry and River Road, where a roundabout has been in use. To the north, a new crossing over the South San Joaquin Irrigation District canal was built. Plans are to repave the road to Escalon with three lanes, including a north and south lane and center turn lane so traffic is not delayed behind a vehicle waiting to turn.

The coordinated improvements aim to relieve congestion and improve the corridor for regional traffic between state highways 108 and 120. The 13,000 average daily vehicle counts on McHenry are projected to outstrip the capacity of the existing two-lane roadway, officials said.

Along with Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties, federal and state agencies are involved in the overall “Improve McHenry” project. Funding was pulled together from state and federal programs and Measure K in San Joaquin County. Myers and Sons Construction of Sacramento was awarded a $22 million contract for much of the work.

Brady said one traffic lane in each direction will be maintained during the different stages of road work next year on North McHenry. “I’m sure there will need to be temporary lane closures. Those won’t be long-lasting,” Brady said.

Additional information on the McHenry Avenue makeover is available at improvemchenry.com. Public feedback on the project is welcome at the Improve McHenry Facebook page.

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