Bidder selected for 41 passing lanes

Teichert Construction of Sacramento was selected last week to construct long-anticipated passing lanes on Highway 41 near the 22 Mile House, and, following a rigorous schedule, plans to complete the work by the end of this year.

Madera County Public Works Director Johannes Hoevertsz said if Teichert’s $8.7 million contract is approved by Caltrans, construction will begin by the end of August.

Caltrans spokeswoman Gloria Rodriguez said Teichert’s plan is to finish the two-mile-long lanes in 90 days with staff at work seven days a week during 10-12 hour shifts, subject to any changes.

“They want to finish the work as fast as possible,” Rodriguez said. “That’s three months. If they go over, there’s a penalty if they do, but they’ve always been good as far as staying within their working days.”

Rodriguez noted nothing is final until the contracts are approved and signed by Caltrans officials.

Teichert, if approved, will construct passing lanes in both north and southbound directions along Highway 41, that start about 0.3 miles north of Road 208, next to the 22 Mile House, then run 1.9 miles from that point in the northbound direction.

As part of the work, sections of Highway 41 that pass through rocky hills will undergo blasting to remove the dangerous materials, where driving risks increase.

“Unfortunately we’re not doing any blasting in Rocky Cut or the canyon,” Rodriguez said, referring to a similar rocky area beginning 0.4 miles north from where the new passing lanes will end. That section is often noted for an increased number of vehicle accidents.

Weather conditions, such as rain, are taken into consideration as circumstances outside Teichert’s control, Rodriguez said.

She added the speed of the plan compared to three other bidders - all at higher price than Teichert’s and with schedules ranging between 145-160 days - was likely to keep traffic inconveniences at a minimum.

“It’s going to be an inconvenience, but again that schedule could change,” said Rodriguez, adding construction will largely take place during nighttime hours. “They’re giving us the 90-day window to complete it ... they felt confident they could finish it in 90 days. The idea is to keep drivers as safe as possible and get it all done as fast as possible.”

Along with the construction are 8-foot outside shoulders in both directions, rumble strips, drainage culverts, and a soft median barrier - essentially a 4-foot lane in between both directions of the highway.

“It’s not a concrete wall,” Rodriguez said. “There’s designated striping so people will not be able to pass in that median section. Do not enter that lane, it’s not a passing lane.”

Hoevertsz said it took at least seven years to plan the passing lanes project, and it will be a welcome relief for drivers along the highway.

“We’ve been working on this for a long time,” Hoevertsz said. “It’s definitely a feasible location for a passing lane, and we’re looking forward to it.”

Bidding information and other details will be finalized once Caltrans approves Teichert’s contracts, Hoevertsz said.

Caltrans, as with any project, asked drivers to “slow for the cone zone” to help keep both drivers and workers safe during construction.