Construction on the Challenger Drive extension is underway, with work expected to run smoothly as it connects to Dennison Road.
According to Greg Garrett, Tehachapi's city manager, the project began a few weeks ago when Cooley Construction, Inc., broke ground.
"We are very happy with the construction company that was selected for the project," Garrett said by phone on Friday, May 9. "We expect everything to go really smoothly because it's a new road extension and little traffic control."
The Challenger Drive extension will connect to Dennison Road, thereby allowing residents an alternative access point to the post office, and the new hospital when it opens in 2016. Currently the only way to access it is via the Mill Street overpass.
Garrett added the main purpose of the Challenger Drive extension is increased traffic safety, security and access.
"The sub benefits are that you are opening other areas for development and access," Garrett said. "Capital Hills has always been one way in, one way out."
Initially the road will be constructed without any improved pedestrian improvements.
Tehachapi received $1.5 million in grant money from Caltrans through its Regional Surface Transportation Program in 2013. The grant was administered through Kern Council of Governments, an organization of city governments and the county that handles transportation issues.
Tehachapi's City Council awarded Cooley Construction the contract for $1.66 million in March.
Garrett said he expects the project to cost a total of $1.9 million. The city covers the remaining $400,000 balance from its Regional Traffic Mitigation Funds, which are collected from developers who build inside city limits.