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Last Highway 99 upgrade on track

The last stage of widening Highway 99 in Sutter County remains on track despite possible state bond delays that threaten to stall road projects across California, according to local Caltrans officials.

Test drilling has begun along a 3.3-mile stretch between Nicolaus and Tudor, and groundbreaking should take place on or just after April 15, Caltrans spokeswoman Rochelle Jenkins said Tuesday.

The $30 million project includes a new bridge over the Feather River and is the last of five projects to widen Highway 99 from two to four lanes between Yuba City and Sacramento . Completion is scheduled for 2013.

Facing a $25.4 billion shortfall over the next 18 months, Gov. Jerry Brown last week proposed a budget that avoids selling general-obligation bonds until July to save $248 million. California sold $10.5 billion in long-term bonds in 2010, according to Bloomberg.com.

State Treasury officials have said a freeze could delay road projects that have not started, but will not interrupt construction already under way.

"The money is a done deal; we have our hot hands on it," Jenkins said.

Construction of the bridge, which would allow it and the existing span to carry two lanes each, is slated to run only between April and October to avoid disturbing the Feather River. The project also includes seismic upgrades on the bridge.

Expanding 99 over the Feather River would close the final gap in the road's expansion, which progressed in October when the opening of the six-mile Tudor Bypass eliminated a stretch at the Highway 113 intersection that became notorious for the deadly wrecks on its sweeping, narrow S-curve.

A Yuba City trucking director said he wouldn't feel co pletely assured of its safety until the completion of the final link.

"Sacramento Avenue going southbound is the bottleneck — people try to pass and they're taking chances there," said Herb Culver, operations manager for Valley Aggregate Transport Inc., which operates more than 130 trucks. "That'll be the last hiccup going down to Sacramento, and it'll be nice when that finally gets done."

CONTACT reporter Howard Yune at 749-4708 and discuss this story at SutterLife.com.


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