Truck-climbing lanes that would allow motorists to pass big rigs traveling on Highway 58 from Bakersfield to Tehachapi may be a future project due to a new study Caltrans is endeavoring to complete by next summer.
“We want to make sure we are doing the work right and putting the lanes in the proper places for truck drivers and motorists,” said Florene Trainor, public information officer for Caltrans District nine.
Lanes are being considered from Bealville Road all the way to Tehachapi. They would help eastbound traffic pass slow-moving trucks and recreation vehicles, which at times travel at slow speeds on high grade points.
Some of these grade points are found between General Beale to Bena Road, Caliente and Hart Flat and Keene Road to Broome Road, said a Project Initiation Document in 2005 from Caltrans.
Caltrans is developing a new document that studies the road sections, the estimated cost, materials, right of ways, tree removal and drainage. This is estimated to be completed June 30, 2019, Trainor said.
Ahron Hakimi, executive director of Kern Council of Governments, said the organization will work with Caltrans and the city of Tehachapi to help further projects that help improve safety. He added that big rigs can suddenly slow motorists who were traveling at speeds of 70 mph to 30 miles per hour.
“We would like Caltrans to look at all locations they looked at in 2005 and see whether those locations are exactly where they do slow down and if they are not, to make corrections,” Hakimi said.
Once the PID is complete, Caltrans will reach out to organizations to help with funding, Trainor said. Cost estimates for each section in 2005 were $5 million to $10 million to complete. Passing lanes from General Beale Road to Tehachapi were considered, but the cost of inflation can affect price change over time, according to the 2005 study.
Funding for these highway projects may again be nonexistent if capital is cut.
Transportation funds from SB1 could qualify to help pay for these projects, but if the bill is repealed on Nov. 6, funding may not be available or they will again be delayed or deleted entirely, said Trainor. She added that half of $54 billion in transportation funds for highways and roads could be lost, since it would go to local streets and counties.
"We are not for or against SB1. We are trying to educate the public and if it does go through there are additional projects that can be funded, but if it gets repealed then a lot of options can go away,” said Trainor.