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County to upgrade Hatch/Santa
Project completed by spring?
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The intersection of Hatch Road and Santa Fe Avenue near Hughson is bogged down with single-file action each morning commute and evening rush hour. The county plans to widen and install improvements to make traffic flow much better. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

Anyone who uses the intersection of Hatch Road and Santa Fe Avenue at morning commute or evening rush hours knows how backed up traffic can become. That aggravating situation will lessen when the intersection is expanded and operational by spring.

The busy intersection between Ceres and Hughson is being upgraded through a $1.45 million contract with Modesto paving company George Reed, Inc. Work is expected to begin after the BSNF Railroad finishes its crossing over Hatch Road in December or early January. The county aims to complete the project by spring.

The project is the final of three phases of projects for Hatch Road that was identified by the county in 2004 to help alleviate traffic congestion.

"The proposed new traffic signals and additional through turn lanes will improve traffic safety and enhance the flow of traffic through the intersection of Hatch Road, Santa Fe Avenue and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad," read a county Public Works Department staff report to the Board of Supervisors.

The project calls for widening the existing railroad track section, a new railroad signal controller, new railroad signals and relocation of the existing train communication and control system. The county will replace the four-way stop signs with traffic signals. Turn lanes, safety lighting and wider shoulders will also be installed.

Reed was the lowest bidder and given the contract by supervisors on Tuesday, Oct. 27. Teichert Construction was the highest at $1.75 million. The engineering department estimated that the contract would come in at $1.7 million.

Construction will commence soon and could be hampered by weather. Widening of Hatch Road from Clinton Road to the intersection will be the first work. Lanes of traffic will be kept open but construction could create delays for motorists.