Tuesday was a day for celebration as CalTrans hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the official completion of the Highway 190 Lairds Rehabilitation Project. The frequently traveled stretch of highway is now open again, providing direct access to Highway 99 for Porterville residents.

The rehabilitation project stretched from Callison Road in Tipton to a half mile west of Road 184. The road is now realigned to the north, minimizing utility pole relocations. This project will improve functionality and travel as a brand new overlay has been applied to reduce wear and tear on commuters and commercial vehicles. It will also provide safety enhancements with the installation of wider shoulders and more efficient left turn channelization.

This project came in at a total of $31 million, and smoothed 16 miles of the road in Tulare County.  The funding for this project was provided by local Measure R funds from the Tulare County Association of Governments (TCAG) and the State Highway Operation and Protection Program. Construction began in the summer of 2018 and officially ended this fall.

To mark the completion of this major development, CalTrans hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony on the black top surface near Callison Road in Tipton on Tuesday morning. Swarms of CalTrans team members, as well as representatives from the City of Porterville, gathered at the event to join in the celebration.

“This project will provide a relief to those who have driven this stretch of State Route 190 over the years,” said Samer Shaath, the CalTrans Deputy District Director of Program Project Management. “I am proud to see the work completed, and the highway will drastically improve the driving experience on this stretch of State Route 190. This is a project that would not have been built without the vital funding of Measure R. I want to thank the local citizens, business owners, and the local district and Porterville area for their patience during the construction phase.”

Shaath thanked each individual project team member for all of the work they put into the project before he took his seat in the audience and let Porterville Mayor Martha Flores take center stage.

“Along with State Route 65, the Mighty 190 serves as a major transportation corridor for the Porterville community and the greater Southeastern Tulare County area including the Giant National Sequoia Monument and the Sequoia National Forest,” said Flores. “The city looks forward to its continued coordination and partnership with both CalTrans and TCAG in the development and improvement of the 190 corridor. On behalf of the City of Porterville, thank you to the staff of both CalTrans and TCAG for this much needed project and helping in making the Mighty 190 even mightier.”

Flores returned to her chair in the audience as a round of applause broke out, and Ben Giuliani, the Executive Officer for the Tulare County Local Agency Formation Commission, stepped forward.

“This project is the poster child of collaboration working with District 6,” said Giuliani. “It was definitely, definitely well worth it. This provides the gateway from the 99, the lifeline of the San Joaquin Valley, to the Porterville area. I want to thank staff for getting this project done in a timely and cost-efficient manner. It’s a very important project for the county and the region.”

It was then time to roll out the ceremonial yellow ribbon. Shaath, Flores and Giuliani stood at the front of the crowd, Shaath on the left, Giuliani on the right, and Flores in the middle with a giant pair of scissors. On the count of three, the ribbon was cut and a loud cheer erupted from the audience.

Highway 190 is now open to the public, and is free to drive on. After being closed for more than a year, the critical road is finally ready for travel.

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