Fresno · Hanford · Highlight

Valadao pushes to fund widening of Hwy. 41 to end its “death trap”

If he has it his way, Rep. David Valadao (R–Hanford) will put an end to a death trap stretch of Highway 41 at the border of Kings and Fresno counties.

Valadao announced this week that he is seeking $20 million in funding from the House Appropriations Committee through a surface transportation funding request.

It’s just one of nearly a dozen requests for funding for critical projects across his south Valley district – from road infrastructure and water and sewer improvements to public safety upgrades and investment in the Valley’s military infrastructure.

The initiative, which is an element of the newly-developed version of legislative earmarks, allows members of Congress to request 10 highly-supported projects be funded using Federal dollars.

Valadao’s top surface transportation project is the widening of the two-lane stretch of Highway 41 from Elkhorn Ave. in southern Fresno County to the Kings County border.

Valley drivers have long argued the six-mile stretch is a death trap, contributing to high vehicle crash and death rates due to lack of passing lanes.

In a statement to The Sun on Wednesday, Valadao said the need to stop deaths on the Valley thoroughfare is at critical levels.

“For far too long, we’ve had a crucial problem with a stretch of State Route 41 leading to fatal crashes, and I am happy to help find a solution at the federal level,” Valadao said. “I requested $20 million from the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to widen the six mile stretch from Fresno County to Kings County from two lanes to four lanes. This project will save lives by providing a comprehensive long-term solution to the various safety problems along this route segment.

“While this is a widening project, its focus is safety and not capacity.”

Valadao underscored the unique role Highway 41 serves for connecting Valley communities together, along with the Central Coast, and a key military installation.

“Highway 41 is primarily a goods movement, farm to market, and recreational route providing northerly access to California’s Central Coast,” he said. “It provides access for southern Fresno County to the goods and services available in the Fresno metro area and provides access to Lemoore Naval Air Station through its connection to Highway 198.”

Here’s a look at the requests for project funding across the South Valley

The Avenal Community Center (Agency/Organization: City of Avenal)
Amount: $2,000,000
What will the funding do? It will allow the City of Avenal to continue construction on the second phase of the Avenal Community Center, providing the remote, western Kings County with its only publicly-available fitness gym and indoor recreational center.

Avenue 95/96 Farm to Market Corridor Repairs (Tulare County Association of Governments)
Amount: $2,500,000
What will the funding do? It will allow Tulare County to repair 10 miles of Avenue 95 and 96 between the communities of Pixley and Terra Bella. This stretch is considered a “Farm-to-Market corridor” as it links the eastern San Joaquin Valley’s Highway 65 to Highway 99.

Along with easing the transit of agricultural products from Tulare County farms to distribution facilities and beyond, the project will reduce travel times and, with it, auto emissions creating air quality improvements in the region.

Bakersfield National Guard Gateway Readiness Center project (State of California Military Department)
Amount: $24,000,000
What will the funding do? It will construct a 50,413-square foot single-story center with up-to-date living quarters for California National Guard service members assigned to Bakersfield for monthly weekend drill sessions. The center is projected to employ 10 individuals on a full-time basis.

City of Lemoore Police and Volunteer Fire Department Dispatch Center (City of Lemoore)
Amount: $1,000,000
What will the funding do? It will enable Lemoore city officials to complete the final phase of its joint police and fire department dispatch center, including fully-equipping the center, to cut down on response times to emergency calls for service within the Kings County city.

Community Action Partnership of Kern Food Bank Expansion
(Community Action Partnership of Kern)
Amount: $1,200,000
What will the funding do? It will expand the organization’s food bank, which is the hub of Kern County’s food distribution network, in reaching the most vulnerable residents of the Golden Empire.

Earlimart Public Utility District Sewer Relief Project (Earlimart Public Utility District)
Amount: $1,284,696
What will the funding do? It will allow the Earlimart P.U.D. to fund the installation of a new sanitary sewer line that increases waste water collection capacity. This will single-handedly enable Earlimart to increase its housing stock, as housing projects are halted due to a moratorium on sewer connection requests.

Earlimart Public Utility District Well Project (Earlimart P.U.D.)
Amount: $1,756,416
What will the funding do? It will be used for well treatment improvement of the community’s Front Street well, which has the highest levels of Trichloropropane (TPC) amongst all of the active Earlimart P.U.D. wells. The project would provide safer and improved drinking water to Earlimart.

Kings County Sheriff’s Deputy Body-Worn Camera Project (County of Kings)
Amount:
 $412,580
What would the funding do? It will help Kings County purchase and deploy body-worn cameras for 200 of its Sheriff’s deputies, helping to increase a shared sense of security for community members and deputies.

Mt. Whitney Avenue Complete Streets (County of Fresno)
Amount: $1,926,679
What will the funding do? This 1.5-mile stretch of Mount Whitney Ave. in the unincorporated community of Riverdale has a Pavement Condition Index of less than 20 (out of 100). The funding will enable road reconstruction along with the installation of curbs, gutters, sidewalks, and storm drains.

Sanger Veterans Memorial Park (City of Sanger)
Amount: 
$962,188
What will the funding do? It will enable the City of Sanger to finish the second phase of its Veterans Memorial Park, which will feature walking paths, lighted sports fields, a pavilion, and a Veterans Memorial Monument.

The author of this article was employed by Valadao during the Representative’s prior tenure in the House.

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.