Expressway should not eat up farm land
While improvements are definitely needed for travelers between Lindsay and Highway 198, Caltrans needs to adjust its plans to consume as little ag land as possible for those improvements.
Caltrans recently held a meeting to lay out possible plans for the realignment of Highway 65 north from Highway 137 in Lindsay to Highway 198 east of Visalia. The plan is to reroute the highway from its present path where it goes through downtown Exeter, to the east and more closely follow Spruce Avenue north.
However, the expressway will require the purchase of hundreds of acres of farmland and other private property to enable the construction of a divided, four-lane roadway along that eight-mile stretch between Lindsay and Highway 198.
Caltrans is looking at several alternatives to its plans, but all would follow the Spruce Avenue alignment. However, some veer off the alignment, cutting a larger swath than if the route followed the existing roadway and only widened that path.
We agree that improving Highway 65 north and making it an expressway all the way from Porterville to Highway 198 would not only be a huge improvement in drive time, it whould also make that drive much safer. Spruce is heavily traveled, taken by most people going from Lindsay or Porterville to Visalia since Highway 65 through Exeter is slow.
However, we hope Caltrans can come up with an alignment that will cut away as little farm land — mostly citrus — as possible. That farm land is the lifeblood of the area’s economy and as little as possible should be eliminated. We also hope that Caltrans comes up with a plan for the intersection of Highway 137 with the proposed expressway where it will veer off in Lindsay. The goal should be to have as little impact on those existing businesses as possible.
Caltrans needs to design an expressway that is not only the safest possible, but the least disruptive for the property owners along the new route.