Citizens concerned over Alternative B of CALTrans Centennial Corridor Project

Informational meeting gives community new insight

BAKERSFIELD - Many concerned citizens had the chance to voice their concerns over the CALTrans Centennial Corridor Project.

Leaders are recommending Alternative B, which connects highway 58 to the new Westside Parkway and Interstate 5 and impacting hundreds of homes and businesses.

CALTrans sent out more than 12,000 newsletters to people outlining the project, its cost and benefits.   On Thursday, leaders laid out those designs in an informational meeting hoping to give people a better understanding of the proposed plan.

Debbie Cormier is concerned over the centennial corridor planned to go right through her West Park neighborhood.

“That makes me feel very angry. I mean, here I spent all this money on this house.  It’s an older home, but let me tell you my grandchildren, I raised there.  My daughter was just a little baby when she was in this house and everything else.  I don’t want to be on top of the freeway the way it is right now,” she said.

Cormier has lived in her home for 16 years and with CALTrans recommendation of Alternative B, the freeway will be located right across her home.

“They say, ‘Well, we’ll have walls that we’re going to build up.’  Sound walls they are going to build up. I don’t care. It doesn’t matter. I don’t want to be that close to the freeway,” she said.

And Cormier is not alone.  Other residents feel the same way.

“I think it’s a travesty that they are putting a school between two freeways. They are dividing a school from a park. They are putting a freeway down the middle of a very well established strong neighborhood,” said Kathy Beaschler, concerned citizen.

The Centennial Corridor Project is expected to cost about $570 million dollars and help relieve congestion on local roads.

“Trucks don’t have to get on 99 anymore, cars don’t have to get on 99 anymore to go north on Rosedale or Stockdale Highway or 7th standard or even 46, they can go straight on to the freeway from the new Centennial Corridor to Westside Parkway, which will go heath road and from heath road to I-5 will be Stockdale Highway,” said project manager, Steven Milton.

Project leaders say Alternative B would impact 310 homes and about 126 businesses.  A move they plan to handle with care.

“First we begin with an appraisal process that is where we do an actual appraisal on the property. We always pay fair market value.  We do not expect that the project would have any influence on the actual appraisal itself so the project is not considered; it would not increase or decrease the value.  Once the appraisal is complete, then it would go to the acquisition agent of which they would make a formal offer to the property owner and they explain their rights and benefits,” said Chanin McKeighen, CALTrans Senior Right-of-Way Agent.

More than 25 right-of-way specialist and engineers met with concerned citizens during the informational meeting.  Leaders with the project plan on releasing a draft of an environmental document in April 2013 with a 60-day review period.  They plan on holding another public informational meeting at that time.

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