BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — For years we’ve watched construction on Highway 99 close down lanes, ramps, and slow traffic. For many local drivers this project has felt like a never ending delay, but according to Caltrans, that will soon change as its expected end rears its way into view.
Since 2019 the 99 Rehab Project has put a dent in traffic along the popular highway.
“That’s the biggest one on our docket currently,” said Caltrans Public Information Officer Christian Lukens.
Every few months a new lane or ramp closure seeming to collide with commuters.
“It was taken into account to not take too much of the traffic lanes away, that's why it's remained three lanes on both sides with that alternating lane,” said Lukens.
The project was originally scheduled to last through 2021 — but then the pandemic hit — delaying construction.
“Our contractor was really good about rallying and getting the protective gear they needed, but some of their material slowed down and the work had to stop for few months while those supply chains were figured out in early 2020," Lukens said.
Now construction is not only moving forward, it’s expected to be completed by June of this year.
“Residents around Bakersfield are going to see a lot of work on ramps, not specifically on 99 but there's still going to be some closures there. Currently the Olive off-ramp is closed and that's scheduled to reopen in mid-March," Lukens said. "There's still some work to do down near the closure on 178 and Buck Owens. So it's going to be a lot of small things that we're peppering with closures.
Caltrans says this completion has been a long time coming and it’s opening them up to focus on other projects around Bakersfield
“On Union Avenue we're looking at some projects just north of State Route 58. Specificially three projects that are expected to be in construction by 2023, one of which is targeting pedestrian and bicycle safety," said Lukens.
Now the current ramp closures are taking place overnight from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. and are expected to last until March. However, Caltrans asks the public to be mindful that a number of things like weather can impact and extend these closures.