Construction on the 24th Street Improvement Project will reduce eastbound traffic on the road to two lanes for the next eight months.
The city is encouraging eastbound motorists to use alternate routes, such as Truxtun Avenue and California Avenue, in order to mitigate congestion that is expected to occur during the construction period.
“When (people) come back from Thanksgiving, the traffic is going to be different,” said Kris Budak, a senior civil engineer with the Thomas Roads Improvement Program.
Construction on the first phase of the 24th street widening project is scheduled to start Nov. 17 and finish in 14 months.
The first eight months of construction will involve the eastbound lanes, with the second half of work being done on westbound traffic.
Eastbound motorists will be converged to two lanes at Oak Street, shortly after the Kern River Bridge, a configuration that will last until M Street.
“Once you get there, you’re just going to move at a calm pace through that area,” Budak said.
The construction is needed to install improvements in the roadway and widen it from four to six lanes between Olive Street and D Street.
A lawsuit by a group of residents that lived along the 24th Street residential area delayed the project for about three years.
The residents objected to the widening project over environmental concerns.
A Fifth District Court of Appeals judge cleared the way for the construction in July.
The project is one of the last pieces in the city’s $1.4 billion TRIP initiative that is meant to drastically improve the transportation landscape in Bakersfield.
Construction on the 24th Street portion of the project will take place in two areas over the next eight months. A retaining wall will be installed along Beech Park and storm drains will be placed along 23rd Street.
Although the 14-month timespan is typical for road construction projects the road itself could cause complications.
“There’s nothing simple about widening a road that’s been there for 60 years because there’s always stuff that is under the road that you can’t anticipate,” Budak said.
During the construction period, the city advises motorists to watch out for construction workers as they traverse the area.