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New overpass makes concrete statement
The new Whitmore overpass arching over Highway 99 has a small feature that you might miss - depending on how observant you are at the time. The concrete bridge was poured with wording CITY OF CERES as a community identifier. It's most visible at certain times of the day as you travel south on Highway 99.

"Is it visible yet?" replied Mayor Anthony Cannella when asked for a comment yesterday. "I haven't even seen it so I can't comment."

Maybe he just missed it.

City officials wanted the new overpass to include some type of "community identifier" after seeing the nice treatment received at the Ripon interchange. However, the imbedded wording is cement bridge is not as noticeable as the one to the north. At $45,000 the cost was not as great either.

Ultimately a second bridge to be constructed over 99 will also include the wording to be seen by northbound motorists.

Work will commence soon to open the new bridge to traffic while the old bridge built in the 1960s is dismantled. A new structure will be put in its place that is more gently sloped.

The $16.4 million Whitmore interchange project will be completed in 2011.

The new interchange will vastly improve how traffic flows down Whitmore Avenue, a main artery of traffic in Ceres. Some of the worst bottlenecking takes place in the area of Ceres High School and the Whitmore / Highway 99 Overpass during rush hours.

The project includes widening of the Whitmore Overpass from two to four lanes with sidewalks on both north and south shoulders.

Local streets on both sides of Highway 99 have or will be reconfigured that will vastly alter how traffic moves. West of Highway 99, a new connector will be added to allow for southbound turns to connect to Railroad Avenue. It replaces a current sharp hair-pin turn that cannot be used by trucks needing to access Railroad Avenue businesses and industries.

The project will affect the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant on Whitmore Avenue near the freeway. A reconfiguration of El Camino means the west side driveway will be eliminated but the parking lot will expand into what is now roadway.

The project will result in some significant traffic disruptions. The worst will occur when Highway 99 is shut down on four nights while crews set steal beams into place. Traffic will be detoured onto city streets.