Fowler Avenue Shoulder Improvements


The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program provides funds to States for transportation projects designed to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality, particularly in areas of the country that do not attain national air quality standards. Created by the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991, the program was reauthorized under the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) in 1997 and again as part of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient, Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) in 2005. From its beginning, the CMAQ program has been a key funding mechanism for helping urban areas meet air quality goals and supporting investments that encourage alternatives to driving alone and improve traffic flow.

Fowler Avenue between Elkhorn Avenue (High Speed Rail) and the Fresno County Line (Kings River) is a 2-lane Major Collector with dirt shoulders and travel lanes that vary in width from 10 feet to 12 feet (20-24 feet total). During the dry summer months, traffic-induced turbulence leads to significant dust that becomes airborne. During the rainy winter months, the shoulders become unstable, which presents safety hazards such as pavement drop-off and/or flooding. Additionally, the edges of the pavement are cracking and causing a safety hazard for drivers. This segment of Fowler Avenue has experienced 32 crashes from January 2011 to December 2021, 2 of which were fatal.  Once complete, the project will improve both air quality and safety for traffic through this corridor to the community of Laton.

The proposed project consists of paving 8-foot wide shoulders on 4.2 miles of the roadway from Elkhorn Avenue to the Fresno County Line. The project will make improvements on .15 mile of Elkhorn Ave east of the the High Speed Rail crossing at Fowler Avenue; continuing for 4.0 miles on Fowler Avenue from .1 mile north of Davis Avenue to 300 feet south of Murphy Avenue, skipping the roadway across the “A” Ditch and Grant Canal, and continuing to the County Line (Kings River Bridge). The 8-foot shoulders will be paved with hot mix asphalt over aggregate base. This project will supplement funding for a proposed project that will reconstruct the entire road within the same limits to a standard 24 foot travel way.

The expected benefits of the project are to reduce airborne particulate matter by paving the shoulders, thereby reducing the amount of dust in the air caused by passing traffic. In general, the advantages of properly constructed shoulders are:

  • More stable shoulders for vehicles which need to stop occasionally because of mechanical difficulties, flat tires, or other emergencies.
  • More stable shoulders allow drivers to correct evasive maneuvers to avoid potential crashes or reduce their severity.
  • The sense of openness created by shoulders of adequate width contributes to driving ease and reduces stress.
  • Stormwater can be discharged farther from the traveled way, and seepage adjacent to the traveled way can be minimized. This directly reduces pavement breakup.
  • Structural support is given to the pavement.

On September 15, 2023, the County submitted a CMAQ application for the project, and award notices will be issued in early 2024.  Should the project be awarded by the CMAQ review committee, the estimated project cost would be $3.9 million.