With funding completely secured for the Centennial Corridor, the City of Bakersfield is moving full steam ahead on the project.
On June 6, the city received the final piece of funding needed for the project, which will connect Highway 58 to the Westside Parkway to allow for easier east-west travel across town. The city is set to receive $50 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation to complete the project.
The funding came after the city earned other state grants in total of $119 million to help pay for the Centennial Corridor.
The $169 million in grant funding now fully funds the corridor, negating the need for the city to have to borrow money for the project.
Besides the grant funding, the rest of the project — estimated to cost more than $500 million in total, according to the city — is paid for primarily through the Thomas Roads Improvement Program.
“It’s amazing. All the cards fell in the right place,” Public Works Director Nick Fidler said about the federal funding. “We were in the right position at the right time. We had projects that were shovel-ready, and we were able to capitalize on that.”
City Councilman Andrae Gonzales, whose ward covers the area where the Centennial Corridor project will take place, also expressed his excitement about the funding.
“I think it’s great news for all of us in Bakersfield. It’s great for taxpayers who want to see this project completed,” he said. “We should all celebrate this win.”
Fidler said construction work on multiple projects that are part of the Centennial Corridor is expected to kick into high gear this year.
“Being fully funded allows us to accelerate the projects,” he said. “We think they can be completed earlier than anticipated.”
Fidler said the target completion date for the corridor is 2022, with construction set to begin early next year.
Here’s a look at the projects connected with the Centennial Corridor, starting with ones that are already under construction.
BELTWAY OPERATIONAL IMPROVEMENTS
This $90 million project was the first to begin as part of preparatory work for the Centennial Corridor, starting last year.
It makes improvements to Highway 58, from Highway 99 to Cottonwood Road as well as some improvements on Highway 99 from around Ming Avenue to Wilson Road. The main goal is to improve on- and offramps prior to the connection of the Centennial Corridor at the Highway 58/99 interchange.
One of the biggest parts of the project is a new bridge that connects motorists on Highway 99 to eastbound 58. While an offramp already existed for that purpose, an overpass connector was needed to make room for an offramp for the Centennial Corridor beneath it.
Traffic was transferred to the new bridge earlier this year.
Some of the ramps that are being reconstructed on Highway 58 include Union Avenue, Cottonwood Road and Ming Avenue. The project also includes the addition of auxiliary lanes to make it easier for motorists to get on or off the highway.
The project is set to be completed within the next couple of months, Fidler said.
Some of the current work that is going on this month includes storm drain improvements, electrical work along the southbound Highway 99 on-ramp, removing temporary concrete barrier rail from various areas along the 58 as well as some retaining wall construction.
KERN RIVER BRIDGE IMPROVEMENTS
This is the first phase of the Centennial Corridor project proper, and it also has already begun.
This $41 million project consists of new and widened bridges in the area where the Westside Parkway links up with Truxtun Avenue.
One of the biggest parts of the project is a new bridge that will serve as a new offramp for Mohawk Street for those heading westbound on the parkway. Those driving on the parkway now can see the bridge is currently in construction.
The project also widens the Westside Parkway to six lanes near the area where it bridges the Kern River, allowing for additional traffic that will be on the parkway once it becomes connected to Highway 58. The majority of the widening work has been completed.
Once the corridor is in place, the intention is for the Westside Parkway to become Highway 58. Project Manager Luis Topete said the city first has to transfer jurisdiction of the parkway to the California Department of Transportation so that it can become a state freeway. Once that’s completed, signs will go up marking the Westside Parkway as Highway 58.
The Highway 58 signs on Rosedale Highway would be removed, he said, and Rosedale would no longer be a state road.
The city is also widening the parkway where it crosses Truxtun Avenue as well as the existing Mohawk Street eastbound offramp to provide another lane.
According to the city, this project is nearly half complete, with work expected to be finished in summer 2019.
BELLE TERRACE OPERATIONAL IMPROVEMENTS
This is the next project tied to the Centennial Corridor, expected to begin sometime this summer and be completed in 2020.
This project, estimated to cost about $42 million, will demolish the existing Belle Terrace bridge over Highway 99 and replace it with a new one that can accommodate a widening of the 99. According to Topete, an auxiliary lane will be added to both the northbound and southbound sides of Highway 99 from Ming Avenue to Highway 58 as a way of improving traffic flow as motorists reach the Highway 99/58 interchange.
Due to the longer bridge, a realignment of Wible Road and Alamo Court will be needed, Topete said.
Also as part of this project, the ramp that connects Highway 99 to eastbound 58 will be reconstructed to allow for an additional lane.
BAKERSFIELD FREEWAY CONNECTOR
Considered the third phase of the Centennial Corridor effort, this $25 million project will reconstruct the loop ramp taking westbound motorists on Highway 58 to southbound 99 to add an additional lane. An auxiliary lane will be constructed on westbound 58 and the bridge crossing over the 99 will be widened.
The goal of the project is to ease congestion in the area for those trying to get onto Highway 99, according to the city. Construction on this project is expected to start this fall.
CENTENNIAL CORRIDOR MAINLINE
The only project tied to the Centennial Corridor that is not expected to begin construction this year is the core part of the project: the mainline that will connect Highway 58 to the Westside Parkway.
Currently, final design plans are in the process of being completed. The city expects to go out to bid on this last phase of the project either late this year or early next year.
The city is currently preparing for the future mainline construction, however. Some of this work includes the installation of drainage systems, street improvements and some asphalt paving. Sound-wall construction related to the project is expected to begin sometime this summer.
The city is also still working on completing right-of-way certification for the project.
With so much work going on and even more to come, Councilman Gonzales said it’s an exciting time for residents.
“It’s important that we complete these projects and move forward,” he said. “With this new grant, this is an opportunity to get this project done. (The Centennial Corridor) is something that’s been sorely needed for years. We need good transportation to support our local economy.”
Gonzales said he’s happy with the work that has been done for the project so far.
“It’s pretty impressive to see the pace the project has been progressing at. I’ve been very pleased,” he said. “Of course I would like to see it done now, but that’s not realistic. I’m excited to see that things are progressing.”