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Ode to a faithful 99 overpass
It went up in 1965 and came down last week.

No doubt millions of trips occurred over the 45-year-old span. It served the community well but in the past two weeks the old overpass was closed, then nibbled away by big machines. The overcrossing was a casualty not of poor performance but of growth. It simply needed to be redesigned and was in the way.

Traffic over Highway 99 is presently being accommodated by a new bridge to the north. It'll be that way for a while until Caltrans builds another bridge in the place of the old one. Significant modifications will be made, including a less steep slope, and a new northbound onramp will be created at its eastern approach for eastbound motorists. When it's all finished next year, Whitmore overpass will consist of four lanes of travel in two independent structures.

The new and improved overpass is only part of the $16.4 million interchange project. It will vastly improve how traffic flows down Whitmore Avenue, a main artery of traffic in Ceres. Some of the worst bottlenecking used to take place in the area of Ceres High School and the Whitmore / Highway 99 Overpass during rush hours.

East of the freeway the old northbound onramp was eliminated in favor of one that will come off the top of the new overpass for westbound traffic, giving motorists a chance to get a rapid acceleration downhill thanks to the slope to ensure freeway speed at the bottom. A new onramp will be added for eastbound Whitmore Avenue.

West of Highway 99, a new connector will be added to allow for southbound turns to connect to Railroad Avenue. It replaces the former sharp hair-pin turn that could not be navigated by trucks needing to access businesses and industries on Railroad Avenue.

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.