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Caltrans break ground on $52 million expressway project in California

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The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has broken ground on a new $52 million expressway project, dubbed as on the State Route 99 Atwater – Merced Expressway (AME) Project, in California.

The project will widen the San Joaquin Valley's busiest highway and provide motorists a new, safer route to and from Castle Airport Development Center and the University of California, Merced.

The project forms part of a larger project to widen SR-99 to six lanes in the San Joaquin Valley. The project will also widen SR-99 from one mile south of the Buhach Road Interchange to just north of the interchange. The average daily traffic volume along this section of highway surpasses 50,000 vehicles, and it is expected to grow to nearly 100,000 by 2030.

The construction of the new expressway has been staged in multiple phases. The Phase 1A of the project will build the first section of the AME from SR-99 to Green Sands Avenue. Eventually, the expressway will be extended to Santa Fe Avenue, providing motorists a faster alternate route compared to busy Buhach Road.

The scope of work in Phase 1A involves replacement of the existing Buhach Avenue Interchange with the new Atwater-Merced Expressway/SR-99 Interchange just north of Buhach. The new interchange will provide motorists safer access to and from SR-99 because they won't enter and exit the highway via the fast lane. Green Sands Avenue will also be extended to Gurr Road.

The Phase 1A is financed through Proposition 1B, a 2006 voter-approved transportation bond. The work in this phase is scheduled to be completed February 2016.

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