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Taft Midway Driller - Taft, CA
  • Highway 119 project to drag on into the spring

  • Work will be suspended on Dec. 19 after one-way traffic hours extended.
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  • That roadway-widening project that's been slowing traffic on Taft Highway since early September – the one that was supposed to be finished by Halloween – continues to creep along just like all those commuters.
    There have been a number of recent developments, so pay attention.
    First, workday lane closures were extended two hours starting last Thursday. The change means lane closures are now 7 a.m.-5 p.m. instead of 7 to 3.
    With release of that information from Caltrans-District 6 public information officer Jose Camarena, the completion date was changed.
    "We hope to be done with paving in December and complete striping in January (if weather allows us to keep working) with a tentative completion window of late January," he wrote in an email to the Taft Midway Driller last Thursday afternoon.
    Weather-permitting was the operative issue.
    Turns out it isn't permitting.
    Late Friday Caltrans project manager Steven Milton notified the Driller he'd just received word that "Caltrans is moving forward with a request from the contractor to suspend this project due to weather."
    Work will come to a halt on Dec. 19. It will start again at a date to be announced later.
    The new completion window: next spring.
    Camarena cited "various factors, from a lack of reliable materials resources to weather to conflicting subcontractor schedules" as reasons for the slow progress.
    The project, which calls for lane and shoulder widening plus some grinding, overlay and striping on a nearly four-mile stretch of Highway 119 through Valley Acres and Dustin Acres, got off to a shaky start.
    The start-up date was put off a number of times.
    It was initially scheduled to begin a year ago, then moved to June 1 and then to Aug. 6 to give utility and oil companies time to move underground pipelines and overhead utility lines.
    It finally got underway Sept. 5.
    The plan also initially called for removing utility poles on one side of the highway, but they still remain.
    Potential drawbacks created by the rainy season delay can't be immediately forecast.
    For one, residents along the construction route could be plagued with muddy driveways leading to their property during wet weather.
    After Dec. 19, commuters won't have to endure those one-way reversing traffic control cycles.
    However, Caltrans will likely continue to use caution traveling through that area.

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