For those of you who have attended the Manzanar Pilgrimage in the past, or have visited Manzanar over the years, you know that the stretch of US 395 that runs past Manzanar is a narrow, two-lane highway with one lane in each direction where northbound drivers take their lives into their own hands when making left turns into Manzanar.
But that will be changing, as CALTRANS, and their contractor, Granite Construction Company, are working on a $60.6 million project to widen an eleven-mile stretch of US 395, including the portion adjacent to the Manzanar National Historic Site, from two lanes to a four-lane expressway.
Construction is underway on the “Manzanar/Independence 4-Lane Project.” Indeed, two road beds had already been graded east of the existing highway adjacent to the Manzanar National Historic Site as of April 25, 2009, the date of the 40th Manzanar Pilgrimage.
This project had been in the works since right after Manzanar became a National Historic Site in March, 1992 and has been awaiting funding until recently.
Proposition 1B funds were used to help fund the project.
“This project exemplifies the use of Proposition 1B funds for improvements on rural highways,” said California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. “The addition of this four-lane segment will reduce traffic congestion and improve the flow of goods to rural communities served by this major artery to the Eastern Sierra.”
The project will create two new roadways east of the existing highway adjacent to Manzanar for the divided northbound and southbound lanes, with the existing highway becoming a frontage road for the Manzanar National Historic Site. The project will include northbound and southbound exits to the site, possibly including an overpass that will allow northbound drivers to safely cross the southbound lanes to access the site.
CALTRANS has a web page that provides updates on the project. You can read newsletters detailing their progress here.
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