Caltrans work crews are putting the final touches on the Yosemite Junction three-way intersection this week, with the approximately five-month project set to conclude on Monday.
To the average driver, the intersection should be operating normally, said Caltrans District 10 Public Information Officer Rick Estrada, who said he was at the worksite earlier in the day on Wednesday.
The intersection was designed to improve driver safety, especially for motorists making a left turn from Highway 120 onto westbound Highway 108.
If a driver comes to a stoplight, eastbound traffic is stopped at a red light to allow the left turn. By design, the westbound traffic should always have a green light unless a pedestrian activated the crossing signal, Estrada said.
The driver making the left hand turn passes into a long refuge lane along a concrete center island set with plastic pylons which allows them to be separated from through traffic.
“Even if they don’t see that concrete down below they will see those pyons up high,” Estrada said. The refuge lane “gives them time to both get up to speed as well as see what’s coming up behind them.”
Previously, cars exiting the junction onto westbound Highway 108 had to make a left turn without the stoplights and between through traffic.
On Wednesday, workers were creating a drainage gutter on the westbound side of the highway. Estrada said it would allow water to be carried away from the area and not pool toward the highway.
Two weeks ago, an electrical issue hindered the correct operation of the eastbound stoplight, turning it red when drivers pulled up on Highway 120 to make a left turn.
Estrada said the issue was fixed within 48 hours.
Estrada said he was not sure why cones were set up on the left eastbound lane on Wednesday, but noted it will be open when the project concludes on Monday.
The project was originally set for completion on Aug. 31, but was delayed, he said.
George Reed Inc., the contractor hired by Caltrans, began the project in May.
Estrada said the project was estimated to cost $3.3 million prior to the cost of construction. He said a final figure would not be available until the project was finished and the costs were totalled.