City Council members ponder backing out of roads projects

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) City residents have had plenty to say about recent road-improvement projects. Criticism seems focused on the Centennial Corridor, which would have to take out a neighborhood to connect Highway 58 to the Westside Parkway. The other is the 24th Street widening project that would ease traffic for those traveling to Highway 178.

"Were talking about $270 million that we will have to go borrow in order to complete them." said Terry Maxwell, councilman for Ward 2.

Council members Maxwell and Russ Johnson in the group combing over the projects with a fine-tooth comb, "Just ensuring not only is the project going to deliver what we need but also that it is going to stay on cost," according to Johnson.

Maxwell said he asked city manager Alan Tandy if the city was at the point of no return in regards to the highway project. He was told the was at that point.

In a council meeting, Maxwell asked the city attorney for confirmation. This week, her office issued a memo stating that if the city chooses to back out of the projects, the city would only be legally responsible for cost of the preliminary engineering work. The city could also loose reimbursement rights for possibly $4 million to $5 million in construction-related bills, still a far cry from the $80 million it was initially told.

Maxwell said he sees value in other less controversial projects, such as the Hageman flyover. Johnson said the overpass expansion slotted for Hoskings Road is creating a lot of positive momentum for the area.