Heard any good Caltrans jokes lately? Here's one: The orange state agency insists that Bakersfield include an apparently useless bike path in the project to widen and improve 24th Street at the Highway 99 interchange. If you're waiting for the punch line, that was it: a bike path to nowhere, a waste of time and, potentially, money.

Bakersfield Public Works Director Raul Rojas, a guy who knows a thing or two about roads, sees no logic in it. Neither do we.

The 24th Street project is part of the ambitious vision, co-authored by the local TRIP agency, to update the city's roads. The California Department of Transportation, in the picture because of its Highway 99 right of way, wants a new bike lane on the north edge of 24th Street to extend west from Buck Owens Boulevard, under the overpass, to just beyond the southbound 99/Rosedale Highway off-ramp. It's a short, one-way lane through heavy traffic that seems to serve no purpose. But Caltrans won't budge -- and didn't explain.

Bakersfield has a well-used bike path, accessible at Beach Park, about 100 yards southeast of the interchange and spanning 30 miles. It ought to be incorporated into a master transportation plan for non-motorized travel for the city. But this bike path to nowhere, through a hazardous corridor, doesn't appear to tie into it. What gives?