The end is in sight for a project that, when completed, will have been more than 15 years in the making.
The city of Bakersfield held a groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday on the new Mohawk Street bridge to celebrate the start of the final phase of the Centennial Corridor project — the mainline that will connect Highway 58 to the Westside Parkway.
The $147 million fourth phase of the project will begin construction in July, with an estimated completion of summer 2022, according to the city.
“Work on this project started in 2005, and it’s taken all that time to bring (the project) to this stage,” said City Manager Alan Tandy. “We have had a lot of people involved in this project for a long time. The quality of the work has been exceptional, the outcome has been exceptional.”
In 2005, Congressman Bill Thomas secured $630 million in federal funding to start what would eventually become the Thomas Roads Improvement Program (TRIP). The program has funded more than a dozen projects in subsequent years.
The mainline is the fourth and final phase in the Centennial Corridor. It also marks the final project to be completed through TRIP, which has secured a total of $1.4 billion for the projects through a combination of state and federal funding, as well as grants.
“Congressman Thomas, we are forever indebted and thankful to you for (your) vision, which allows for this final groundbreaking to take place,” said Mayor Karen Goh. “Let’s continue to connect our community to the region, to the nation and to the world.”
City Councilman Andre Gonzales also spoke at Wednesday’s ceremony, as the project is in his ward. Gonzales said it took a lot of effort from many individuals to bring the project to this point.
“To accomplish these projects, it required will, it required constant movement forward,” he said. “It required a city manager who was strong and who could lead the charge. As we build the mainline, it’s important to recognize all those individuals who have supported this project. Together, we can accomplish great things. Together, we can continue to build our community.”
At the ceremony, Thomas announced that he’s decided to “loan” the T in TRIP to Tandy for his assistance in making the Centennial Corridor project a reality. Thomas presented Tandy, who recently announced he'll be retiring in December after 27 years as city manager, with a large golden ticket recognizing his contributions.
“I thank all of you for your willingness to let me serve you for 32 years in elected office and stand up here and see a Bakersfield most of us never thought we would see,” Thomas said.