Busy Tulare County intersection will get traffic lights

Supervisors approve plan to signalize the intersection of Avenue 256 and Road 204 (Spruce Road) between Exeter and Lindsay


EXETER – A busy intersection between Exeter and Lindsay will soon be installed with traffic lights.

At its March 19 meeting, the Board of Supervisors approved improving the intersection of Avenue 256 and Road 204 (Spruce Road) from a four-way stop controlled by stop signs to signalized intersection.

Road 204 is a heavily traveled corridor and serves as an alternate route to Highway 65 which runs parallel approximately one mile to the west. Much of the traffic is business related commuters traveling between the City of Visalia and the City of Porterville. Avenue 256 is moderately traveled and connects to Highway 65 to the west.

In 2008, the county made the intersection a four-way stop by adding stop signs for north-southbound traffic on Spruce. The intersection has met the requirements to have signal for the last decade but the county decided against additional cost in 2008 because Caltrans was proposing realignment of Highway 65 from Kaweah Avenue (Road 196) to Spruce. There have been 24 collisions in and around the intersection since 2006. The intersection has warranted a signal under the California Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (CA MUTCD) based on traffic delays, traffic and vehicle crash data.

In last year’s annual Intersection Monitoring Report, the Tulare County Association of Governments (TCAG), the county’s transportation agency, gave the intersection a Level of Service grade of “E”, the second worst score an intersection can receive. According to TCAG’s analysis of the intersection, signalization has the potential to greatly reduce delay times to vehicles, and significantly improve the traffic operations to an “A” grade, the highest score.

In 2016, Caltrans announced it was withdrawing its plan to realign Highway 65, another factor in the county’s decision to move ahead with traffic signals at the intersection. The project also includes rehabilitating Road 204 between Avenue 256 and Avenue 264 north of the BNSF Railway tracks. Road 204 is in poor condition due to aging, weather and traffic volume.

The total cost of the project is about $400,000. The county authorized $250,000 to initiate the preliminary engineering, environmental clearance and right-of-way engineering and acquisition. An additional $125,000 will be funded through Measure R, the half-cent transportation sales tax approved by county voters in 2006. The preliminary engineering, environmental clearance, right-of-way acquisition and utility relocation phases should be completed by the end of 2021. Construction is anticipated to begin in Spring of 2022. If the county has to relocate utility poles, the cost of the project could increase to $2.5 million.

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