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California State Route 180 Kings Canyon Road Expressway and Sequoia-Kings Canyon Freeway

Within in the City of Fresno eastward towards Minkler the current route of California State Route 180 has been progressively updated to the Sequoia-Kings Canyon Freeway and Kings Canyon Expressway over last couple decades.  Given I live within only a couple blocks of CA 180 the freeway/expressway portion I decided to finally get around to checking out of the entirety of the completed limited access grade.  While this might not be as exciting a two-lane section of roadway descending Kings Canyon or fables of a Trans-Sierra Highway that never existed on anything but paper I figured that it would be a fitting end to the CA 180 series.


The current CA 180 alignment on the Sequoia-Kings Canyon Expressway spans from Brawley Avenue eastward to De Wolf Avenue.  From De Wolf Avenue the Kings Canyon Road expressway alignment of CA 180 continues eastward to Centerville.  Presently a new segment of expressway is being built to bypass Centerville and Minkler.

My previous two articles on CA 180 east of Minkler into Kings Canyon and failed attempt to build a Trans-Sierra Highway can be found below.

California State Route 180 east of Fresno to Cedar Grove (Kings Canyon Highway)
Old California State Route 180 on Dunlap Road

The history of surface alignments of CA 180 within Fresno can be found on the article below:

Old CA 180 and CA 41 surface alignments in Fresno

CA 180 west of Fresno to CA 33 can be found on the article below:

California State Route 180 (from CA 99 west to CA 33)

The history of former County Maintained portion of CA 180 on Panoche Road and the failed attempt to extend to US 101 can be found on the article below:

Signed County Route J1 and former CA 180 on Panoche Road

The history of the limited access section of CA 180 begins in 1964 when the planned route of the Sequoia-Kings Canyon Freeway appears on the State Highway Map.  Of note; the planned freeway segments of CA 41 and CA 168 first make their appearance in 1964.

1964 State Highway Map City Insert

The first segment of the Sequoia-Kings Canyon Freeway is shown as opening between Blackstone Avenue and new freeway alignment of CA 41 on the 1981 State Highway Map.  It is highly likely given the lack of connectivity that CA 180 was not signed on the first portion of Sequoia-Kings Canyon Freeway.

1981 State Highway Map

At some point between 1982 and 1986 the alignment of CA 180 within downtown Fresno was moved to a simplified alignment.  Said new alignment routed CA 180 east onto CA 99 on the Golden State Freeway from Tuolumne Street (this is where I'd advise referring the article about the surface alignments of CA 180 in Fresno) to Ventura Street.  Previously CA 180 had been using Tuolumne Street eastbound into downtown and Stanislaus Street for westbound traffic.  The shift in the alignment of CA 180 can be seen by comparing the 1982 State Highway Map to the 1986 edition.

1982 State Highway Map

1986 State Highway Map

During the course of the 1990s and early 2000s the course of the Sequoia-Kings Canyon Freeway was progressively constructed from Brawley Avenue eastward.  By May 2001 Joe Rouse reported to CAhighways.org that the Sequoia-Kings Canyon Freeway was signed as CA 180 from CA 99 eastward beyond CA 41 to Chestnut Avenue.  CA 180 eastward followed a temporary alignment south on Chestnut Avenue to Kings Canyon Road.

CAhighways.org on CA 180

According to CAhighways.org construction of the Sequoia-Kings Canyon Freeway east of Chestnut Avenue to Clovis Avenue began in 2002.  The Fresno Bee reported that the new segment (including the new junction with CA 168) between Chestnut Avenue and Clovis Avenue had been opened by September 2005.   The temporary alignment of CA 180 east used Clovis Avenue south before turning onto Kings Canyon Road.  This alignment of CA 180 on the Sequoia-Kings Canyon Freeway can be seen on the 2005 State Highway Map.

2005 State Highway Map

According to CAhighways.org the route of the Sequoia-Kings Canyon Freeway east of Clovis Avenue to Locan Avenue began in August 2004.  The first portion of the Kings Canyon Road expressway from Locan Avenue east to Academy Avenue was slated to begin construction 2005 but ultimately was delayed.  In July of 2007 the right-of-way of the surface route of CA 180 on Kings Canyon Road was relinquished between Peach Avenue and Clovis Avenue.  By December of 2009 the route of the Sequoia-Kings Canyon Freeway had been completed from Clovis Avenue to Temperance Avenue.

CAhighways.org further elaborates that an extension of the Sequoia-Kings Canyon Freeway east from Temperance Avenue to De Wolf Avenue was considered in October 2008.  The same citation notes that the Kings Canyon Expressway was slated to being construction in August of 2009 between Locan Avenue east to Quality Avenue near Sanger.  It appears the final segment of the Sequoia-Kings Canyon Freeway along with the first segment of the Kings Canyon Expressway east to Quality Avenue was completed at some point in 2012.  Of note the former route of CA 180 on Kings Canyon Road between Clovis Avenue east to Temperance Avenue was authorized for relinquishment in April 2012.  The segment of former CA 180 on Kings Canyon Road east of Temperance Avenue east to Locan Avenue was approved for relinquishment in August of 2012.  The collateral facilities of CA 180 eastward from De Wolf Avenue east to Quality Avenue were approved for relinquishment by October of 2012.

In August of 2013 construction of the Kings Canyon Expressway eastward to Smith Avenue in Centerville began.  This segment of Expressway was slated to be opened as a realignment of CA 180 by July of 2016.  The project east from Quality Avenue to Centerville appears to have been completed early as relinquishment of former segments of CA 180 began in January of 2016 according to CAighways.org

The current and third segment of the Kings Canyon Expressway presently being constructed as a bypass of Centerville and Minkler appears to have been funded by the California Transportation Commission by October of 2016.  The current project is slated to extend the Kings Canyon Expressway 0.6 miles east of Frankwood Avenue and have CA 180 realigned was slated to be completed originally by August of 2019.

Two months ago while returning from Kings Canyon National Park on CA 180 west I passed the construction zone of the third phase of the Kings Canyon Expressway.  The construction signage announcing the bypass of Minkler and Centerville shows the anticipated date of completion at some point in 2020.  The construction project announcement is located east of Frankwood Avenue next to the Kern-Friant Canal.


From Frankwood Avenue the eastern end of the Centerville/Minkler bypass is easily observed.




For reference Frankwood Avenue is located at Post Mile FRE 78.00 on CA 180.


Of note Frankwood Avenue/CA 180 is where present Orange Blossom ends at the Fresno County Blossom Trail.  The Fresno County Blossom Trail present uses CA 180 west to Centerville.  It isn't clear where the Fresno County Blossom Trail and Orange Blossom Trail will be relocated when CA 180 is realigned onto the Centerville/Minkler Bypass.

The Schoolhouse Restaurant is located on the southeast side of the Kings Canyon/Frankwood Junction.  The schoolhouse was originally the Frankwood School which was the second school house on the site with the current structure being built in 1921.  The Frankwood School was shuttered in 1958 having been absorbed into the Centerville School District.




CA 180 west presently makes a right hand turn at Reed Avenue into Minkler.  The photos below were taken early 2018 when Blossom Trail signage was still present.  Fresno is signed as being 19 miles away on CA 180 west from Reed Avenue.




CA 180 west present passes through Minkler and crosses Byrd Slough.  Minkler was essentially a rail siding that was created back in 1920.  Back in the hey day of Minkler it was located at the junction of the Wahtoke District Railroad and Porterville-Orosi District Railroad.  The Wahotke District Railroad used to travel north on the Kings River towards Piedra which terminated at a local rock quarry.  Both lines were abandoned in the 1960s and 1970s.

Today there are only a couple structures in Minkler still inhabited.  One of them on the south side of CA 180 is called the Minkler Cash Store is reportedly a place where locals just basically regale tourists and people passing by about local lore.  The photos of Minkler below are from 2018.





CA 180 west approaching Minkler crosses the Kings River approaching Centerville.  The early phase of the Centerville/Minkler Bypass can be seen in the photos from 2018 below.







One of the new expressway bridges over the Kings River can be seen this photo below from April 2019.


The expressway alignment appears to be slated to absorb a small portion of current CA 180 into the new eastbound lanes between Minkler and Centerville.


In Centerville the Blossom Trail turns north on Oliver Avenue.  Centerville actually is one of the oldest communities in what is now Fresno County having been founded back in 1854 as Scottsburg.  By 1858 Poole's Ferry was established as a crossing of the Kings River which was part of the Stockton-Los Angeles Road which had only been created five years prior.  The original town site was destroyed in a flood in 1867 and it was resettled to the west as Centerville in the present location.  Centerville has approximately 400 residents according to the 2010 census but I'm not sure what area that figure actually consists of.

For such a historically significant locale there isn't much left of Centerville today.  There are some structures that still line CA 180 that are obviously from much better times when Centerville was actually important. 






An 1891 map of Centerville shows much of the community has disappeared.  I'm fairly certain that Cross Street is now CA 180.  Incidentally I wrote a blog about the crossing of the Kings River in Kingston which no longer exists nor is in Fresno County anymore.

1891 Map of Centerville

Back in 2018 I checked out an early phase of the Centerville/Minkler Bypass from Oliver Avenue.



CA 180 west of Centerville expands out to the Kings Canyon Expressway which is being presently reconfigured to meet the Centerville/Minkler Bypass.  Fresno is signed as 16 miles away on CA 180 west.




CA 180 west on the Kings Canyon Expressway continues towards Fresno with the only major junction being located at Academy Avenue.  At De Wolf Avenue CA 180 enters the Sequoia-Kings Canyon Freeway.






The first exit on CA 180 west on the Sequoia-Kings Canyon Freeway is at Post Mile 65 for Temperance Avenue.


CA 180 west enters the City of Fresno and meets Fowler Avenue at Exit 64.  Exit 64 is signed as the Kimberly Marie Hamilton Memorial Interchange.






CA 180 expands to six lanes past west of Fowler Avenue.  At Exit 63 CA 180 meets Clovis Avenue.



Access to Fresno-Yosemite International Airport is signed from CA 180 west via Exit 62 at Peach Avenue.





West of Peach Avenue CA 180 is signed as Senator Jim Costa Highway.  At Exit 61 there is signed access for Chestnut Avenue and Cedar Avenue.




Exit 60 on CA 180 west is the access ramp for CA 168.




CA 180 west quickly has another significant junction at Exit 59 which accesses CA 41.





CA 180 west of CA 41 enters downtown Fresno and accesses Blackstone Avenue/Abby Street at Exit 58.  The interchange of CA 180/CA 41 is signed as the Rose Ann Vulch Interchange.






At Exit 57B on CA 180 west there is signed access for Fulton Street and Van Ness Avenue.  I missed the button-copy sign advising traffic that there is access to the Tower District.




At Exit 57A the route of CA 180 west meets CA 99.



Since I broke the CA 99/Golden State Freeway blogs into two pieces they wouldn't fit above.

CA 99/Old US 99 from Sacramento to CA 145

CA 99/Old US 99 from I-5 in Wheeler Ridge to CA 145

CA 180 west of CA 99 is signed as Deran Kofiglan Memorial Highway.


CA 180 west meets Marks Avenue at Exit 56.  There is various signs advising the Sequoia-Kings Canyon Freeway is about end approaching CA 180 west.






At Brawley Avenue the Sequoia-Kings Canyon Freeway ends and CA 180 west drops to a conventional highway at a traffic light.







Of note there is numerous newer looking Post Mile paddles on Kings Canyon Road from Temperance Avenue west to Minnewawa Avenue.  Per the relinquishment notice cited above the paddles should no longer be present and they don't appear in the current Caltrans Post Mile tool.  It seems that the City of Fresno and Fresno County simply never removed the paddles when Kings Canyon Road was relinquished.



Comments

Anonymous said…
When was the portion of Ventura Ave. east of Cedar Ave. in Fresno renamed Kings Canyon Rd.?
Anonymous said…
There was a plan to extend the 180 Express way all the way to Cove Ave. I remember seeing a map it but CalTrans scrapped "Phase IV" of the express way. Do you have any info on that? I have not been able to find any.

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