Drivers: Highway 99 contruction project dangerous

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) Some drivers who travel in Kern County are getting frustrated with construction taking place on Highway 99 between Norris Road and Route 46.This 15-mile stretch of roadway that's under construction is referred to as the Lerdo Lane Reconstruction Project, which began in April 2012. Currently, the project has the center lane of Hwy. 99 closed and has concrete safety railing or "k rails" dividing the construction zone from commuters. This causes traffic to split in two lanes around the center construction lane, which many say is dangerous."At least this month, I've seen two wrecks here when people try to cross over from the fast lane to get off the freeway," J.P. Sohal said Thursday. Jose Camarena, of Caltrans, said many of the crashes that take place are due to drivers going too fast for the construction zone."That is a 55 mile per hour speed zone," said Camarena. He said this center lane closure is just a phase of the project to reconstruct the full depth of the Nos. 2 and 3 lanes with continuously reinforced concrete, and it will hopefully be completed by the end of October."It's going to be able to handle the heavy truck traffic that we've got on Route 99," Camarena said. Other drivers simply won't even travel on the freeway while construction is still going on."We can't turn off and go home here," said Ron Evans. "We have to go four miles out of the way, so we don't even use the freeway anymore." Camarena said Caltrans officials expect the $89 million project to be completed by May or June of next year.