Local News

Tuesday, Feb 04 2014 08:55 PM

Residents critique Hageman Flyover

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Cal Trans design manager Richard Helgeson speaks about the proposed Hageman Road Flyover during a community meeting to inform the public about the project that would provide a new connection between northwest Bakersfield and downtown.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Tishie Lerette, left, a mobile home park general manager, hears questions from Scott Friesen, right, the project engineer of the proposed Hageman Road Flyover that would extend Hageman Road from Knudsen Drive across Higheay 99 to Golden State Avenue at Airport Drive. The project would provide a new connection between northwest Bakersfield and downtown.

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BY THEO DOUGLAS Californian staff writer tdouglas@bakersfield.com

A Caltrans study released in January urged construction of the Hageman Flyover to relieve congestion in northwest Bakersfield, but residents at a community meeting Tuesday night worried the highway's connection to Airport Drive could be just another bottleneck.

The flyover would connect Golden State Highway/Highway 204 to the east end of Hageman Road by crossing -- or "flying over" -- Highway 99.

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Caltrans plans to have the project ready to construct by June 1, 2016, but while city officials envision using state or federal funds to build it, they don't have the money yet.

Caltrans officials estimate its total cost at $60.5 million, with $54.8 million of that going to build the actual roadway and bridges and walls. The rest, more than $5.7 million, is right-of-way costs.

While no houses would be demolished, one business does stand in the way of the highway connection.

Twenty partial properties also would need to be purchased, many to build a two-way bike path on the Flyover's south side. That's 13 more partial properties than indicated in the Caltrans Initial Study released Jan. 21.

Caltrans Senior Transportation Engineer Rick Helgeson said that number has changed because the project area was aerially mapped after the Initial Study was completed. In many cases, he said the agency will need just a few feet of the 13 additional parcels.

"For the most part they're acquisitions that would not change the function or the occupants of the parcel," Helgeson said.

Caltrans' Initial Study -- the equivalent of an Environmental Impact Report -- found that if the four-lane roadway is built, traffic on Highway 99 between Olive Drive and Golden State Avenue and at key northwest intersections would remain at C and D levels with minimal delays through 2035.

In the traffic world, C's and D's are like A's and B's on a school report card and typically mean traffic is moving along well, with the possibility of momentary stops -- what you might experience on a good drive to work.

But a handful of area residents who attended the meeting at Beardsley Junior High School told Caltrans and Thomas Road Improvement Program officials -- who oversee major highway projects on behalf of the city -- that drivers heading south on Airport Drive should be able to go west on the Flyover without turning left into a loop on-ramp.

"People here are flying. I see somebody getting killed," said Tishie Lerette, who manages two trailer parks in the area, including Mulberry Manor Mobile Home Park, one street north of Highway 204.

"It'll make it easy for them to go straight and get on, but there's this left."

Resident Sam Kliewer called the loop on-ramp -- where a left-turn lane would first stop southbound motorists on Airport Drive a "violation of design principles."

"Coming in here, stopping traffic on a very busy street creates more problems than this would solve," Kliewer said.

Olive Drive resident Alley Moyers praised the Westside Parkway, another TRIP project, but lamented the semis that hurtle down her street, using their noisy engine brakes to slow down.

"It'll help us," Moyers said of the Flyover. "We're just looking forward to getting rid of some of the traffic on Olive Drive."

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