Caltrans District 10 has officially began the process of widening State Route 99 (SR-99) going southbound between Turlock and Livingston, adding a third lane for a nine-mile stretch. The southbound expansion is the second phase of a greater project that saw a similar highway widening going northbound from Livingston to Turlock, which took place from November 2019 to April 2021.
The southbound widening will be completed within a similar timeframe, beginning last week with an expected finish in January 2024. Funds for the southbound project construction were designated in the 2018 State Transportation Improvement Program.
The Caltrans said the project is necessary to address freeway capacity restrictions, which is anticipated to reach or exceed existing capacity on or before 2030. Additionally, Caltrans has viewed the nine mile stretch as a bottleneck for drivers as it is the only stretch of freeway between Turlock and Livingston that is currently two lanes wide.
Caltrans District 10 Director Dennis T. Agar spoke about the benefits the project can potentially bring to commuters once it is completed in early 2024.
“This project will benefit commuters, local traffic, and of course, Merced County’s important farming communities,” Agar said. “Upon completion, trucks carrying Central Valley goods such as almonds, grapes, dairy and tomatoes will move more efficiently throughout the state.”
According to Caltrans, construction crews are scheduled to conduct most of their work during weekdays, performing temporary lane, ramp and shoulder closures. It is stressed that no two consecutive ramps will be closed simultaneously. Caltrans added that there are no current plans for full highway closures on SR-99.
With construction underway and an increased presence of workers on the highway, drivers can expect reduced speed limits throughout the work zone. Those commuting are encouraged to plan ahead and at times use alternate routes.
More information on the SR-99 southbound project can be found by going to www.dot.ca.gov/caltrans-near-me/district-10  and selecting “Merced” under the Current Projects tab.
Drivers are also encouraged to follow @CaltransDist10 on Twitter and “Like” Caltrans, District 10 on Facebook for the latest traffic updates as it relates to the construction between Turlock and Livingston.