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Newsom, Caltrans look to strip Highway 99 expansion funds

Highway 99 expansion projects in Madera and Tulare counties are set to be dissolved following an executive order signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom diverting billions in highway spending.

The order, signed by Newsom in late September, focused on redirecting $5 billion in highway-centric transportation funding toward rail projects with the overarching goal of reducing greenhouse gasses and cutting fuel consumption.

The order was paired with a draft CalTrans report issued at the outset of October that explicitly placed the two projects on the chopping block.

“We are just outraged,” Madera County Supervisor Rob Poythress told CBS 47. “We couldn’t believe it because this corridor is so important for our state.”

Tulare County Supervisor Kuyler Crocker described the move as a “slap in the face” to the Visalia Times-Delta.

“It’s very frustrating and goes to the whole idea of people need to ride more trains and mass transit, but that’s just not realistic in every part of the state,” Crocker added.

 Assemblyman Devon Mathis (R–Tulare) expressed considerable dismay at Caltrans’ proposal to strip funding for its busiest non-interstate highway.

“The 99 is vital to the state of California and the nation for goods movement. It is unacceptable to delay improvements to the SR- 99 corridor,” Mathis said.

He, along with other local leaders, are expected to attend the California Transportation Commission’s meeting in Modesto on Tuesday to lobby for full funding of the projects.

Alex Tavlian
Alex Tavlian is the Executive Editor of The San Joaquin Valley Sun and Executive Director of Valley Future Foundation. You can reach Alex at alex.tavlian@sjvsun.com.