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Freeway being altered north of Hatch Road
• Auxiliary lane being added to northbound Highway 99
sound wall down
Work crews were busy separating rebar from broken concrete after the sound wall along northbound Highway 99 was demolished between Hatch Road and South Ninth Street this week. - photo by Jeff Benziger

The tall masonry sound wall that separated Highway 99 traffic and the Bystrum frontage road was reduced to rubble this week as Caltrans plans to rebuild it stronger in preparation for a transition or auxiliary lane being added to northbound Highway 99.

Earlier this week work crews began dismantling the wall between the northbound Hatch Road onramp and South Ninth Street off-ramp into Modesto. The wall needed to come down so that it may be replaced with a strong wall that could withstand the impact of a big-rig in the event of a serious crash into it.

Caltrans has plans to add a transition lane that will give traffic more space to stream onto the freeway from the Hatch onramp as well as vehicles transitioning over to exit the freeway onto South Ninth Street.

According to Nicole Mowers, the Assistant Public Information Officer for Caltrans District 10, said the $8.7 million project is currently scheduled to finish construction in December.

“The purpose of this project is to increase the merge zone between two highly used ramps, thereby enhancing the operations and safety of the freeway,” said Mowers. “By increasing the merge zone, vehicles traveling from Hatch Road would have more time and space to accelerate and merge into the mainline at the flow speed. Vehicles using the northbound off-ramp at South Ninth Street would also have a larger area to make a safe and efficient lane change onto the off-ramp. Additionally, traffic already traveling on northbound SR-99 within the project limits would have fewer disruptions in flow.”

The work has slightly disrupted traffic on Bystrum Road where barricades have been erected for safety purposes as well as caused problems of dust for neighboring households.