Caltrans plans to soon release to the public plans on three sections of truck-climbing lanes that would allow motorists to pass big rigs traveling on Highway 58 from Bakersfield to Tehachapi.
"The project initiation document is a planning document. It's really the document that starts the dialogue very early in the process. It's designed to relatively give guidance to future phases," Brent Green, district director for Caltrans District Nine, said at the Kern Council of Governments' regular board meeting in Bakersfield on Thursday.
Caltran’s Project Initiation Document for the State Route 58 Truck Climbing Project still needs final approval. It was slated to be completed last summer.
Lanes are being considered from General Beale Road to Tehachapi Creek Bridge near Tehachapi. They would help eastbound traffic pass slow-moving trucks and recreation vehicles, especially on high grade points.
At the meeting, Caltrans District Nine representatives shared a preview of three specific locations for the proposed truck climbing lanes.
Lanes being considered are: starting halfway between General Beale and Bena roads and ending shortly before Highway 223; beginning shortly before Bealeville Road and extending to Hart Flat; and starting before Broome Road and ending before the Tehachapi Creek Bridge.
"The proposal at this point is to widen asymmetrically on the outside shoulder ... The layout that we are proposing would include what we call a 14-foot truck climbing lane. But two of those feet would be comprised of barrier stripping," said Brian Wesling, senior design engineer for Caltrans.
Some alternatives and challenges to each location included widening or realigning Bena Road, removing or extending Broome Road Bridge, and obtaining right-of-way for encroachment to the parcels surrounding the new lanes, according to a Caltrans Powerpoint presentation.
Even though there currently is no local or state funding for the projects, Caltrans is eager to find money for the preliminary environmental and engineering studies for all three truck-climbing lanes, Green said.
"We simply don't have enough information to define with probability a programmable construction cost," Wesling added. "So everything is given as a range. The right of way capital and the construction capital."
Each of the three possible truck-climbing lanes may cost around $30 million, but that figure doesn’t include inflation. Any future construction timeline depends on how much funding is obtained, said Wesling.
The cost estimate for each section of grade points in 2005 was $5 million to $10 million. These points were between General Beale Road to Bena Road, Caliente and Hart Flat, and Keene Road to Broome Road. That's according to a 2005 Caltrans Project Initiation Document.
Funding through the Trade Corridor Enhancement Program, a SB1 funded plan for infrastructure improvements to national highways, was a possibility, although Highway 58 improvements did not make the 2018 list, according to catc.ca.gov.
Christine Knadler, public information officer for District Nine, said in an email, “Most SB1 funding is for Fix-it-First projects to support the state’s current aging infrastructure. Currently, there are no SB1 funds identified for this project. Caltrans and our partners are currently searching for funding opportunities for this project.”