Hwy. 58 bridge gone, forcing long detour for rural travelers

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) East Kern County commuters have a number of questions after a bridge on Highway 58 in Sand Canyon was torn down and workers didn't return to put it back up.

For the past three weeks, there hasn't been any activity at the bridge.

"When you don't see nobody working for days, days after days after days, you kind of wonder, 'Well, what's going on with the bridge?'" commuter Martin Folley said.

Folley travels east of Tehachapi, up and down Hwy. 58. To get to work, he normally exits off at Sand Canyon. Three months ago, though, the California Department of Transportation took down the westbound bridge at Sand Canyon for reconstruction, and Folley said he's had to take a long detour.

"It adds up. It's about five to 10 bucks a day for me, out of the way, for gas prices, so that's $25 a week. You got 52 weeks, do the math. That's what it's gonna cost me by the end of this year in gas alone to go to work and back," said Folley.

Folley said he is bothered most by the fact that construction crews have stopped showing up.

"I see the sign up on the freeway every day that says my tax dollars at work, I want to see people out here working," said Folley.

Jose Camarena is a spokesman for Caltrans. He said Caltrans originally posted that the bridge reconstruction would be completed in August, but there were problems early on.

"We did run into an issue of asbestos that was found in the local area, or in the immediate area of the bridge so that did keep our primary construction crews away from the project for close to 3 weeks," said Camarena.

Camarena said that the asbestos find delayed construction about two months, but that the crews will be returning soon to work on the bridge.

"Hopefully by October we will be done, and we will have that construction project completed, and we'll have people driving on a brand new bridge," said Camarena.

The original bridge was 45 years old and was being replaced as routine maintenance.