24th Street crosswalk

The Enns family crosses 24th Street at the existing Alder/A Street crosswalk

Jennifer Williams

Two crosswalks on 24th Street could soon become a thing of the past.

A city resolution seeks to remove the sidewalks at Alder/A Street and Drake/D Street as the city gets ready to start widening the street from two lanes in each direction to three lanes to help with traffic flow from Highway 178. The Bakersfield City Council will conduct a public hearing to consider the resolution during its Oct. 11 meeting.

Public Works Director Nick Fidler said that with the widening project, westbound traffic will be transitioning from four lanes to three on 24th Street shortly before they arrive at the Alder/A Street crosswalk.

“We’ve identified that the crossings wouldn’t be safe in their current form for what we’re proposing,” he said.

As the removal of the crosswalks would mean that pedestrians would need go out of their way a few blocks to F or Oak streets to get to the south side of 24th Street, a group of people who live on the north side of 24th Street have started a petition campaign to keep the crosswalks and are asking the city to make at least the Alder/A Street crossing a signalized one for pedestrian safety.

Even if the city paid for a signalized crosswalk, Fidler said, the crosswalk would still be too dangerous to pedestrians and motorists.

“Going westbound on 24th Street, there is insufficient distance between the merge from four lanes to three lanes after the couplet to allow drivers to successfully navigate the merge and the potential of pedestrians in the crosswalk,” he said in a report to Mayor Karen Goh and the City Council. “Drivers will be focused on the road while they transition through the area and not on the upcoming crosswalk. Further, drivers in the middle lanes may not have adequate sight distance to see a pedestrian.”

The group’s petition, which has been signed by nearly 400 people, will be submitted to the council at the meeting for consideration.

In other matters, the City Council will consider contract agreements for several big projects in Bakersfield and Kern County.

The first construction work on the 24th Street widening project could start soon if the council approves a $1,377,500 contract with James E. Thompson Inc. The construction of sound walls on the north side of 24th Street between Beech and Alder is the first step in construction.

The council will consider agreements with Stockbridge General Contracting and Eco Energy Solutions Inc. for phase two and three of the Bakersfield Sports Village project.

Stockbridge’s $2 million contract would be for soccer stadium improvements. Eco Energy Solution’s $323,625 contract would be for soccer field lighting.

The council may also award a $717,753 contract to Granite Construction Company Inc. for improvements to the Westside Parkway, such as the addition of a right turn lane for southbound Calloway Drive to the westbound Westside Parkway on-ramp, a right turn lane on the eastbound Westside Parkway off-ramp to Calloway Drive, and signal modifications at both intersections.

The City Council could also approve a $1,922,525 contract with Specialty Construction Inc. to install a new sewer system as part of the Centennial Corridor project and relocate existing sewer systems if needed.

Joseph Luiz can be reached at 395-7368 or by email at jlui@bakersfield.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @JLuiz_TBC. 

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