The golden shovels were out for the groundbreaking of the Kern River Improvements Project.
Officials from the Federal Highways Administration and Caltrans joined local city officials this morning to kick off construction of the controversial Centennial Corridor Project.
The $41 million Kern River Bridge Improvement's Project is the first phase of construction for the Centennial Corridor Project which will connect Highway 58 to the Westside Parkway.
The groundbreaking marks the beginning of what officials are calling the largest single infrastructure project in Kern County history.
"A true east west corridor through our region that will enable travelers and freight to go from Las Vegas to interstate 5 almost without ever touching a surface street," said Ahron Hakimi, Executive Director of the Kern Council of Governments.
The Kern River Improvements Project will widen two existing bridges that will connect to the Corrridor.
It will also construct two new bridges for the future westbound off-ramp to Mohawk Street-one crossing Truxtun Avenue and one crossing the Kern River.
"Our promise to the citizens of this region is that we will find a way to ensure these bridges smoothly connect to a much larger project and vision for our communities," said Hakimi.
Residents that live in the pathway of the Corridor have raised concerns of crime they say has increased since the city began tearing down homes to make way for it.
"The safety of our residents is first priority," said Ward 2 councilman Andrae Gonzales, “we are stepping up patrols within that area so that we can ensure that BPD has a stronger presence."
Demolition of more than 180 structures began in spring 2016 and is nearly complete.
As crews continue their work, at least one resident is happy to see progress being made.
"It's good for the whole community that this project is made. It will relieve traffic, less accidents, people get to work on time a lot better, in a more orderly fashion. It's good for the whole community," said Bakersfield resident Mark Peterson.
In addition to the Kern River Improvements Project, other areas of construction will move forward on the Centennial Corridor in August of this year.