Yosemite visitors will face delays on highways

Nature-seekers driving from Stanislaus County to Yosemite National Park will encounter some delays next week when construction crews close Highway 120 in Tuolumne County to repair a railroad crossing.

The road closure will occur between Highways 108 and 49 near Yosemite Junction starting Monday and ending Oct. 19, said Steve Lackner, a maintenance manager with the Sierra Northern Railway.

California Department of Transportation crews will direct traffic to portions of Highways 108 and 49 as an alternate route.

Lackner said construction crews will be conducting ex-tensive and time-consuming repair work, ripping out the rails at the crossing and re-placing them.

"Once the rails are yanked out, you can't go over (the crossing)," Lackner said.

Crews will do the same rail repair work the following week at a crossing on Highway 49 between Highways 120 and 108, Lackner said. This closure will start Oct. 22 and end Oct. 25.

Caltrans crews will direct traffic to portions of Highways 120 and 108 as an alternate route.

Highway 120, just south of Yosemite Junction, is com- monly used by drivers heading to Yosemite from the Stanislaus County area, said officer Tom Wills, a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol in the Sonora area.

He said the route also is used by drivers traveling to and from Groveland.

With the summer rush to the park over, Wills said, the number of visitors drops in October. There are those, however, who drive that route to catch the fall colors at the park.

"It might cause a five- to 10-minute delay for drivers," Wills said. "(The detour) is re-ally not that far."

Helping drivers stay on track

He said CHP officers will add extra patrols to ensure travelers don't get lost while driving through the alternate routes.

Drivers should expect the same kind of delays the following week when construction crews close Highway 49, Wills said.

Highway 49 is commonly used by foothill residents traveling south to the Chinese Camp area and by commercial trucks, he said.

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at rahumada@modbee.com or 578-2394.