Clovis plans to widen Willow Avenue

Southbound traffic is shown here at a stoplight on Willow Avenue. The Clovis city council voted unanimously 4-0 to move forward with the Willow Avenue street widening project between Shepherd and Copper. The project will add additional northbound travel lanes for a total of three lanes, a concrete median, curb, gutter and median landscaping, streetscape, lighting and bike lanes. (Google Maps)

Willow Avenue will be getting a much-needed additional northbound lane, along with curbs and gutters, from Shepherd and Copper avenues, come 2019.

With traffic along the Clovis/Fresno corridor increasing due to the ever-growing Clovis Community College, Clovis North High School and newer shopping centers and restaurants popping up and planned closer to Shepherd Avenue, the need for another lane to accommodate all the residents and students is essential, especially with plans for Heritage Grove developments breaking ground soon.

At a council meeting on May 21, Clovis Management Analyst Ryan Burnett said the engineering staff is currently designing the street widening project, which is consistent with the general plan. The project, he said, will be funded in part by Measure C and by state local partnership program funds. Construction on the street is expected to start next year, he said.

“The improvements include additional northbound travel lanes for a total of three lanes, a concrete median, curb, gutter and median landscaping, streetscape, lighting and bike lanes,” Burnett said. “Also included are modification of street signs, striping, modifications to the existing traffic signals and installation of a new signal at Copper and Willow Avenues. There will also be drainage facilities installed and sewer and water.”

After Burnett’s presentation, the council voted unanimously 4-0, with Lynne Ashbeck absent, in favor of the mitigated negative declaration for the street widening project.

“I think the street widening is going to benefit the community at-large and all of those people who travel on Willow Avenue,” Mayor Bob Whalen said.

In addition to benefiting the entire community, the Willow Avenue project will also benefit future developers coming to Heritage Grove by effectively reducing development impact fees they would otherwise have to pay for the improvement.

“In this case the Measure C funds will offset costs normally bore by the developers for these specific areas,” City engineer Mike Harrison said. “We also have some funds being used in the Loma Vista area on Shaw out to McCall and from Herndon out to DeWolf. Those are projects that are not part of the mix to be funded by development … By virtue of the fact that the street is not being funded by developer fees, you can call this a discount for developers.”

“The higher cost of our development fees is a constant refrain I often hear from developers in Clovis and I love to be able to say with some credibility that [these fees] are less then they otherwise would be because of this,” Whalen said.

Valerie Shelton :