Freeway construction slows down Highway 198 ramp use

Caltrans announces nightly ramp closure on Highway 198 to conduct freeway improvements

VISALIA – Late night and early morning drivers traveling east on Highway 198 should prepare for detours and single-lane use when making their way to downtown Visalia.

The Department of Transportation (Caltrans), in cooperation with Granite Construction Company, has announced a night time closure for a lane on Highway 198 as well as a closure for the highway’s eastbound off-ramp merging onto State Route 63 in Visalia.

The off-ramp, which is the quickest way to make it downtown off the highway, will be closed starting Thursday, Oct. 20 from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. each night until the project is complete. Operations are expected to continue until some time in late November.

In addition to the closing of the state routes, the freeway’s overcrossings for Giddings Street and Watson Street are being modified to have a single functioning lane in each direction. Additionally, northbound State Route 63—Noble Avenue—is being reduced to a single lane starting from South Willis Street to South Watson Street.

According to Caltrans public information officer Elizabeth Yelton, there has been an issue of traffic build-up on the freeway as drivers use the offramp exit. She said cars are often backed-up onto State Route 198 due to a surplus of drivers using the State Route 63 exit during rush hours, and the project is meant to help with the issue. 

According to the site’s project manager Mohamad Annan, the proposed improvements are targeted to lessen the traffic delays by making improvements to the utilization of State Route 198’s left lane on the off-ramp. It is also meant to improve the operations of the intersection of State Route 198 and Watson Street. 

Once the project has started, construction operations will routinely occur every night from Sunday night to Friday morning from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.

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