The Tehachapi Loop Overlook fundraiser has reached its goal with a $10,000 pledge made by Kern County Second District Supervisor Zack Scrivner at the Economic Development Council’s meeting held May 5.
According to Friends of the Tehachapi Depot board member Keith Sackewitz, who conceived the project and diligently pursued it, the next step is to meet with the contractor who has been hired to build the platform, which overlooks one of Tehachapi's most historic landmarks.
"That's supposed to come in the next couple of weeks," Sackewitz said.
Sackewitz said FOTD is overseeing the project itself to cut costs.
Each year, thousands of visitors come to Tehachapi to visit site of the Tehachapi Loop, which was built in 1976.
Said Sackewitz, "It is a hundred and some odd years old, still in use in the same place."
Located near Keene, the Tehachapi Loop is a railroad engineering feature in which the tracks pass over themselves in a circular loop to allow trains to gain elevation in a steep area without exceeding a 2.2 percent grade.
The Overlook will provide visitors with a safe way to view the site, which has been missing all these years on the curving, mountain pass.
Sackewitz said the Overlook platform will push the existing monuments back 40 or so feet so that viewing can be done safely without visitors having to stand in the roadway.
"They are going to be off of the road and in a fenced-in area. We hope this will be just another jewel in Kern County," Sackewitz said.
Depending on the availability of the contractor, a groundbreaking event will be held within the next month, with the county to help with licensing and permits, Sackewitz said.
The FOTD board is anticipating that the Overlook platform should be built and in use by the end of the summer.
"I pledged $10,000 today to the Loop Overlook Project at GTEDC this morning," Scrivner said. "I greatly appreciate the tremendous support we have received from our community and corporate partners, and I’m particularly proud of the effort my field representative, Laura Lynn Wyatt, has put into organizing the fundraising effort, so I wanted to make a substantial contribution to the project to demonstrate my commitment to the effort."
There will still be a lot of work to do from the county level to help Friends of the Depot navigate through construction of the project, but the community has certainly stepped up to achieve this significant fundraising milestone.
According to FOTD President Steve Smith, the new viewing platform will not only provide a much safer place, but will also be an attractive and welcoming place for visitors to view trains passing over the Loop.
"Tehachapi receives quite a large number of out-of-state and foreign tourists passing through the area and stopping in our town, and many of them visit the Tehachapi Loop," Smith said. "Many of these visitors travel on to visit our museum and do business in our town. The new viewing platform will show that we care for our visitors and the positive impression this generates will carry over to our community as well."
The project included major contributors who gave amounts of $5,000 and $10,000, including Scrivner and the city of Tehachapi.
Said Smith, "But there are also very many folks who gave smaller amounts that helped take us over the top, making this fundraising endeavor such a success. It shows what can happen when a community pulls together for a common purpose."
Smith also mentioned that individual parties responsible for the success of this project included Laura Lynn Wyatt (field representative for Scrivner), Lydia Chaney (GTEDC president and owner of South Street Digital), Eric Horn (also of South Street Digital), and FOTD Board members Linda Gordon, Marlan Woodside, Nick Smirnoff and Tim Trujillo (past board president).