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Old 99 overpass coming down
Lots of motorists have been seen shaking their heads at the newly created traffic snarl caused by the latest phase of the Whitmore interchange project.

Traffic has been backing up for westbound motorists attempting to use the new overpass which went into operation on the night of Feb. 18. Engineers found it necessary to reduce Whitmore Avenue to one lane near Fourth Street. That has caused vehicles to backup as far east as Fifth Street, especially at peak traffic hours such as 7:45 a.m. with movement toward Ceres High School.

Traffic on the Pine Street overpass has grown as drivers avoid Whitmore.

On Feb. 18 the contractor on the $16.4 million interchange project routed traffic onto the new bridge in preparation for the closure of the old Whitmore overpass. On Wednesday demolition crews began chipping away the old bridge at its eastern approach.

Caltrans has announced that it will alternately close Highway 99 from the Pine Street overpass to Hatch Road in Ceres from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. tonight through Saturday to remove the rest of the structure. Northbound traffic must get off at Fourth Street, travel up El Camino and west on Whitmore to use the new onramp. Southbound lanes will be directed onto eastbound Hatch Road, south on Herndon, south on Central to Herndon and then back onto 99 near Whitmore Park.

Both northbound and southbound lanes will not be closed at the same time.

The $16.4 million interchange project 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.

Local streets on both sides of Highway 99 have been reconfigured that altered how traffic moves around Ceres High School.

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

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.