BY THEO DOUGLAS Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Roadwork on two key Kern County highways will be wrapped up and, in the other case, temporarily halted ahead of the Labor Day holiday weekend, Caltrans said Thursday.
Both lanes of Highway 178, the main and fastest road between Bakersfield and the Kern River Valley, were expected to be reopened in the Kern River Canyon by Thursday evening, agency spokesman Jose Camarena said earlier in the day.
The highway was closed to traffic from the afternoon of Aug. 19 to the morning of Aug. 23 to clear two rock and mud slides caused by heavy rain.
Crews continued to repair damage to the outside lane of the highway, and drainage culverts this week, after reopening one lane of traffic in the affected canyon area and escorting vehicles through.
Camarena cautioned that portions of Highway 178 may be closed in coming weeks as crews complete additional maintenance.
The planned reopening was good news for Joe Ciriello, owner of Golden State Surplus in Lake Isabella.
"My primary concern was the holiday weekend," Ciriello said. "All three weekends -- Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day -- are really big for merchants, restaurants, supermarkets, rafting. The whole economy here rocks for those three weekends."
Motorists on Highway 99 also will get a bit of a break. The much-used California Avenue on-ramp to Highway 99 south will remain closed -- but Caltrans work on the freeway will be halted through Monday to ease the drive.
"Because it's a holiday weekend, we don't want to impact holiday traffic," Camarena said.