From Bakersfield to Corona and all over southern California, massive road construction projects are causing massive delays and multiple driver complaints.
Maybe the sales job for SB 1 should include a series of public service announcements to prepare drivers for detours, workarounds and traffic stoppages as the money voters approved in November goes to work.
In Bakersfield, the local newspaper, the Californian, ran a front-page article on the issue, starting with a series of questions:
“Have you ever seen road construction this thick in Bakersfield?”
“Local drivers try to avoid one traffic tie-up and instead come upon another.”
“Help! The whole town is in gridlock!”
“Longtime Bakersfield resident Stephen Montgomery wrote in a Facebook post, terming the phenomenon “Construction fatigue.”
Reporter Alex Horvath described the mess this way:
“Early last week, turning left from Oak Street to Rosedale Highway required three cycles of the light. Why? Because traffic gridlocked on Rosedale, between Oak and Buck Owens Boulevard, and it was bumper-to-bumper to the east and west as far as the eye could see.”
“It wasn’t rush hour. It was midafternoon. But the area is under construction.”
He also quoted a city official’s explanation: “Finally we have the money. And when it comes to government funding, you often must use it or lose it.”
Not Only Bakersfield
Interstate 15 on the south side of Corona is undergoing lane widening on both sides of the highway and, simultaneously, more paving work on the adjacent frontage roads. The result? What is normally a 16-minute trip from Indian Truck Trail Road to the I-15/S.R. 91 interchange (Exit 85 to Exit 96—15 miles) now takes 30 to 45 minutes to negotiate on a good day. Motorists who travel that route every day have said there seems to be steam rising from the anger of folks trapped in this jam.
Caltrans District by District
While Caltrans isn’t the only department of transportation doing highway work, they are the big dog in the game. Here’s what’s cooking out of Sacramento:
- District 5, including Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, is showing seven major projects, mostly on Highway 101.
- District 6 which includes Kern County in our coverage area, is showing 10 “indefinite long-term road closures,” (which means big jobs) with seven in the Bakersfield area alone, so drivers there aren’t exaggerating about the traffic issues.
- District 7, which includes Los Angeles and Ventura counties, has “indefinite long-term road closures,” on nine roadways including state routes 2, 47, 103 and 150 as well as work on interstates 5 and 10.
- According to Caltrans District 8, they have a half dozen other “indefinite long-term road closures,” mostly on I-15 but also S.R. 74 and U.S. 40.
- In District 11 (San Diego and Imperial counties) there are two S.D. segments of I-5 undergoing construction and four pavement projects on I-8 in Imperial County.
- Orange County, District 12, has only two such projects underway, one with bridgework on I-5 and the other some emergency work on S.R. 91
While those in our business are celebrating the steady work from SB 1 (and, hopefully, some progress in Washington on re-authorization for the federal highway program this year) we should take pity on the poor drivers weaving through our projects—maybe even put up a sign thanking them for their patience and telling them when the job is supposed to be done—just sayin’.