City Council gives go-ahead on 24th Street widening project, approves final EIR

FILE - A car travels along 24th Street in Bakersfield, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX file photo)

The ongoing saga of the 24th Street widening project took another turn Wednesday evening as the Bakersfield City Council voted 5-1 to approve the project's final environmental-impact report, with Ward 2 Councilman Terry Maxwell casting the dissenting vote.

"I cannot in good conscience agree to certify this," said Maxwell.

The project aims to widen 24th Street to three lanes in each direction between Olive and D streets, while having four lanes on 23rd and 24th between D and M streets.

The project was put on hold when a citizen's group successfully sued the city, claiming the city's original EIR was flawed and violated the California Environmental Quality Act. A judge agreed and ordered the city to re-do its study, taking into account eight alternatives and include cul-de-sacs be built in several streets south of 24th Street.

Maxwell however was not convinced city staff did a thorough job in considering alternate routes and questioned a host of items, including traffic counts which he contended were off by as much as 49 percent. He questioned data provided by staff on the project.

"We have been duped," said Maxwell.

Ward 3 Councilman Ken Weir said he took offense to that remark and said the project should go forward.

"We have an opportunity to improve a section of town that for the last 30 years has dilapidated," said Weir.

The case now heads back to court, where a judge will review the final EIR approved by the city and determine if the project can move forward. No court date has yet been set.

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