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Caltrans Picks Preferred Route For Centennial Corridor Freeway in Bakersfield

Plans to connect Bakersfield's Westside Parkway across Highway 99 to Highway 58 are becoming clearer today, as Caltrans has selected what it calls a "preferred alternative" for the proposed Centennial Corridor freeway.

The alignment, known as "Option B" would travel west from the current Highway 58 interchange across Highway 99 though the West Park neighborhood. The freeway's path would then turn northwest, crossing both Stockdale Highway and Truxtun, in order to connect with the Westside Parkway near Mohawk Street.

Caltrans says the other two proposed routes would cause damage to local parks, the Rancho Vista historic district, and the Kern River Parkway. Federal transportation law requires that projects avoid such resources when possible.

The preferred route of "Option B" is estimated to cost $570 million. Caltrans says modifying the other potential routes to avoid impacts to parks and historic resources would cost anywhere from $787 million to $2 billion. 

The Centennial Corridor plan has been the subject of controversy for years, as construction of the freeway would displace dozens of homes and businesses in the area. Supporters have advocated for the construction of the freeway for decades, as a way to ease traffic congestion and provide a quicker east/west freeway route to the west side.

In 2005, Congress awarded the project $330 million as part of the federal highway bill. The project is being administered as part of the Thomas Roads Improvement Program, a $630 million roads project, named for former Congressman Bill Thomas, who helped to secure funding for the project. 

Caltrans will hold a public meeting on December 6 at the Kern County Administrative Offices, Building Rotunda, 1115 Truxtun Avenue from 4:00 - 7:00 p.m. to discuss the route and environmental study. 

Joe Moore is the President and General Manager of Valley Public Radio. During his tenure, he's helped lead the station through major programming changes and the COVID-19 pandemic, while maintaining the station's financial health. From 2010-2018 he served as the station's Director of Program Content. In that role, he also served as the host of Valley Edition, and helped launch and grow the station's award-winning local news department. He is a Fresno native and a graduate of California State University, Fresno.