New southbound lanes of Highway 99, from Mission Avenue to Athlone Road, south of Merced, reopened about 11 p.m. Monday, the California Department of Transportation announced.
The work is part of the $128 million Highway 99 Arboleda Drive Freeway Project that began on June 27, 2012.
According to Caltrans, the project involves constructing a new interchange at Arboleda Road, upgrading 99 from a four-lane expressway to a six-lane freeway on a seven-mile section just south of Merced, between Buchanan Hollow Road and Miles Creek Overflow.
As part of that project, Caltrans will also temporarily close Lingard Road, Ranch Road and Athlone Road to the freeway. The roads are scheduled to reopen late this year.
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Also this week, crews will close the left lane and left shoulder on 99 from McHenry Road to Gerard Avenue for striping. The closure will be from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. each day starting today and lasting until Thursday.
Caltrans officials estimate 10-minute delays and suggest alternate routes be taken whenever possible.
The work is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather and availability of equipment and materials, Caltrans officials said.
The project’s purpose is to ease congestion, improve mobility, decrease travel times and enhance safety for both commute and recreational traffic in Merced County, according to Caltrans. The project is anticipated to be completed by 2015.