Work to begin on passing lanes

Construction is set to begin this month on long-awaited passing lanes for Highway 41 near the 22 Mile House, with a rigorous schedule to complete the project in 90 working days.

Caltrans spokeswoman Tami Conrado said work is scheduled to begin Feb. 29, depending on weather conditions and environmental compliance.

Contracted through Teichert Construction of Sacramento, the lanes will begin 0.3 miles north of Road 208, next to the 22 Mile House, and run 1.7 miles north from that point.

The project will add a lane in both directions.

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

The blasting is scheduled between 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on working days, and will require complete highway closures for about 20 minutes with each blast, Conrado said.

A detour is available for those who wish to avoid those delays. Northbound drivers can take a right turn onto Highway 145 and follow it along Road 211 until a left turn onto Road 200 that leads to Highway 41. Southbound drivers can follow the same route with a left turn onto Road 200, a right turn onto Road 211, and following it as it changes to Highway 145 back to Highway 41.

Conrado said construction will also take place nights and weekends, as well as during those regular daytime hours, but Caltrans will impose one-lane traffic control as needed to reduce traffic impacts as much as possible.

Rocky Cut, where a rockslide closed the highway last month, is outside the project area and will not be included, Conrado said, though it is continually monitored by Caltrans staff.

Total costs for the project are $9.7 million, including supplemental work and other contingencies after Teichert’s $8.7 million bid was selected over three competitors last July.

When the Sierra Star first reported on the new lanes, Teichert planned to start work in August but the project was delayed.

“Preconstruction reports and approval processes as well as the process to award a contract took longer than originally expected,” Conrado said. “Winter weather played a huge role in the delays too.”

No work can be done after a half-inch of rain is received within 24 hours under environmental requirements, Conrado noted.

She also noted the “Dragon Tree,” infamous among Mountain Area and Valley residents due to its unnatural shape, is located near but not inside the project’s area and will not be affected by construction.

Any other trees inside the project limits will be removed, Conrado said.

Caltrans, as with any project, asked drivers to “slow for the cone zone,” and remain watchful of workers and signage.