Officials celebrating the first year anniversary of the Westside Parkway opening

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Thousands of people drive on it everyday and its quickly become one of the fastest and easier ways to get to and from downtown Bakersfield.

The Westside Parkway is an east-west freeway between Truxtun Avenue and Allen Road and cost $154 million dollars to complete.

Leaders began planning for the freeway in the early 90's and eventually it will connect to the Centennial Corridor Project.

One year after it opened, the freeway is still changing the way people get to and from downtown.

"It easily shaves off 15 to 20 minutes off of my commute," said Erwin Ledford of Bakersfield.

37,000 drivers use the freeway on a daily basis helping improve the flow of traffic.

"I think it's pretty cool. It's not that bad of a drive," said Enrique Garcia of Bakersfield.

The Westside Parkway includes three lanes in each direction with interchanges at Truxtun Avenue, Mohawk Street, Coffee Road, Calloway Drive and Allen Road.

"I have a lot of satisfaction when I drive on it today.  Just knowing, all the work that the staff here in the city put into getting that project approved, getting designs completed, getting the bid and getting every constructed," said Theodore Wright, assistant public works director for the City of Bakersfield.

Officials say they had the nearly eight mile freeway in mind when new development began on the west side of town.

"A lot of the development on the west side of the city was developed with this freeway anticipated, being placed so as future traffic is generated from these developments, it has adequate facility to be able to handle that traffic in a east, west direction," he said.

With construction almost complete on the project, city leaders are looking at the future of the freeway and possibly creating art along side it.  Although, things are too early, ideas of a 3-D statue or silhouette and a possible mural are being tossed around and that's exciting news for local artist.

"At the moment, all you see is a lot of oil fields and stuff like that and I think that's really good on the city's part that they are interested in bringing art to the parkway," said Ledford.

Construction on the last two miles of the freeway should be completed by the end of the year.


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