The Avenue 17 transportation corridor has been on the county’s radar for a while and for good reason. A former county supervisor campaigned with that issue on his slate. Similar to the City of Fresno’s plans to utilize Herndon Avenue as a major traffic corridor, an east-west traffic corridor along the Avenue 17 alignment makes a lot of sense, especially when the planned North Fork Casino is completed. A couple of problems need to be addressed.
Madera County’s Avenues are east-west routes and several cross the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks. Avenue 17 does not. If the purported “high speed rail” system actually gets constructed parallel to the BNSF line, all of those crossings will be subject to greater engineering demands. Will there be over- or underpasses to allow vehicle traffic to proceed regardless of train traffic? The only existing BNSF crossings for a growing population of East-siders are at Avenue 21 and on Raymond Road/Road 28 1/2.
Similarly, Avenue 17 doesn’t have a bridge across the Fresno River. Avenue 17 extended to the east would have to cross the river and State Highway 145 somewhere east of the BNSF tracks. Given today’s restrictive environmental regulations for doing anything with a river as well as having Caltrans involved, like Herndon Avenue, the plan might never be realized.