City Council takes a look at Highway 41 and Bush overpass concept to spur growth

By Ed Martin, Editor

What to do about development on the West Side of Lemoore? The existing overpass at Highway 41 and Bush St. has been a detriment to development ever since it was built. It’s simply not big enough and wide enough to accommodate the number of lanes needed to spur development from the east to the west.

At Tuesday night’s council meeting, Lemoore Project Manager Judy Holwell presented the council with a concept that could help alleviate the problem and possibly spur development, including much-needed retail growth. The concept is called a Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI) and it’s been developed in several states but has yet to see the light of day in California. Holwell and CalTrans, which brought the concept to Holwell, suggested that Lemoore might be a perfect site for a DDI.

“I’m excited about it,” said Holwell at Tuesday’s council study session. “I don’t know if it’s going to work or not, but I’m here to gauge the council’s interest.”

Holwell recited a bit of the history of the Bush and Highway 41 Interchange. “The holdup (for development) has been for us the overpass at Highway 41 and Bush Street,” she said. “We hired CrisCom and one of the first things we did … we contacted CalTrans in Fresno and got a meeting with the district director. We met with him and we talked about the changes that have been made here in Lemoore and … the changes on the West Side.”

U.S. Department of Transportation Video of a DDI

Draft Report

Previously, to accommodate full buildout on the West Side, up to eight lanes were proposed for Bush Street under Highway 41. That design was proposed prior to the downturned economy, and prior to Council abandoning Bush Street west of Marsh Drive. That abandonment eliminated all development west of Marsh Drive, including 233 housing units that had been approved as part of the Victory Village project.

Holwell said the DDI has been working well in other states. “It really moves people through quickly,” she said. It’s been working tried and true in other states.”

Developing a DDI isn’t cheap. It would cost about $5 million dollars, including $10,000 to $20,000 for a traffic study and $150,000 for a Project Study Report.

Councilmembers seemed enthused about the idea of improving the interchange to accommodate growth. “It’s a great time for us to really think seriously about this,” said Councilmember Jeff Chedester. “People will stop there, but we have to build it and they will come.”

Councilmember Ray Madrigal said CalTrans appears enthused about the concept as well. “It looks like this is something they would really like to test somewhere. How about some funding from them (CalTrans),” he asked. “Without something like this, nothing is going to happen out there. We need to get the ball rolling.”

Councilmembers suggested that the concept be placed on the next city council agenda for further action.

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