24th Street widening project to enter second phase Wednesday

Construction equipment sits in preparation for the 24th Street widening project at 24th Street and Pine in Bakersfield, Calif., Tuesday morning, April 11, 2017. (KBAK/KBFX photo/Claudette Stefanian)

The 24th Street widening project is expected to enter its second and third phases starting Wednesday.

Crews were scheduled to begin work Tuesday, however the timeline was pushed back by a day. On Wednesday, the contractor will start demolishing at 2401 Pine St., where eight homes will be taken down on the north side of 24th Street.

Up until now, crews have been sifting through any remaining material after knocking down a home. From there, piles have been made for recycling centers to avoid dumping the contents at a landfill, Public Works Director Nick Fidler said.

In order to preserve the health of nearby residents, contractors have been required to perform a handful of mitigation efforts to dissipate any hazardous elements from going airborne. Wood chips have also been placed on top of the dust to lessen the dust particles where possible.

But while contractors have been working to bring down the homes, six houses have almost been able to evade demolition completely because they were deemed to have “historic value.” Fidler said Caltrans and the state required contractors to evaluate each and every home to determine if any were worth preserving. Five of those homes went up for auction, but were not met with any bids. Fidler said they will now be demolished but is hopeful the same fate does not exist for the Speakeasy home, which will be open for a walkthrough to contractors this week.

“The other five homes weren’t as of significant value as the Speakeasy home, and it became too challenging for the contractors to pick them up and relocate them," Fidler said. "The Speakeasy home is a little bit different than the other five in the fact that all they have to do is pick it up, turn it 90 degrees, and move it a few feet."

Fidler mentioned entertaining other ideas to preserve the Speakeasy home if no bids come through although he is optimistic there is strong interest to buy the home. As for the other five homes, a historian from Caltrans will be examining the homes to determine if they contain any historic items of value and donate them to historic groups.

Public Works says the traffic is not expected to change drastically but is advising commuters to keep their eyes on the road and off of the homes while passing through the area.

The construction zone is still heavily congested. The department officials said they should still have everything completed on time.

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