Freeman Gulch Widening Projects
To improve the safety, capacity, operation, and route continuity on State Route 14 in Kern County, by converting the existing two-lane conventional highway into a four-lane divided controlled access expressway. The Freeman Gulch Widening project has been broken down into three segments.
The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) joined officials from Inyo, Mono and Kern counties and prime contractor Granite Construction to celebrate the completion of the first of three Freeman Gulch projects on State Route (SR) 14, which will eventually convert the existing two-lane roadway to a four-lane expressway upon full completion.
“This roadway is the principal access into the Inyo and Mono County recreation areas,” said Caltrans Director Laurie Berman. “This project improves the safety, capacity and operation of this important route for the eastern Sierra region and its economy.”
The project converted a portion of the existing 2-lane highway into a 4-lane expressway in Kern County on State Route 14 from ½ mile north of the junction of State Route 178 East to 4 miles south. This $27 million-dollar project was jointly funded by the Kern Council of Governments, the Inyo and Mono Local Transportation Commissions, and Caltrans. “Since 1955 Caltrans in cooperation with its local transportation partners has worked to four lane the U.S. Highway 395 and State Route 14 corridor” stated District 9 Director Brent Green. Green went on to state that “This project is yet another important milestone in our goal to achieve this vision”.
Near Ridgecrest, on Route 14 from 4.8 miles south of Route 178 west to 0.5 mile north of Route 178 west. (PM 52.6-58.8)
Purpose of the Project
The project constitutes the principal access into the Inyo and Mono County recreation areas. The project would relieve congestion, separate oncoming traffic with a divided median, and breakup traffic queues by providing major passing opportunities. This project is the second of three segments that will close the final 2-lane "gap" on Route 14 between Mojave and the junction with Route 395. Route 14 is an Interregional High Emphases Focus Route and is essential to the economic development of the eastern Sierra region. It is consistent with Transportation Concept Report, the Interregional Transportation Strategic Plan, and the Kern County Regional Transportation Plan.
The project's funding shares are documented in an MOU amongst Caltrans, Kern Council of Governments (Kern COG), Inyo County and Mono County. Funding shares for the programmed amount are 40% Caltrans, 40% Kern COG, 10% Inyo County, and 10% Mono County.
- Design (PS&E) Support: $3,250,000. Prior expenditures $1,199,000 and $2,051,000 not currently programmed.
- Right of Way Support: $2,100,000. Right of Way Support is currently not programmed.
- Right of Way Capital: $5,510,000. Right of Way Capital is currently not programmed.
- Construction Support: $3,900,000. Construction Support is currently not programmed.
- Construction Capital: $32,927,000. Construction Capital is currently not programmed.
- Environmental Clearance - October 27, 2007
- Begin Right of Way Appraisals & Acquisition - December 2019
- Complete Plans and Specifications - May 2022
- Certify Right of Way - November 2022
- Advertise Project - April 2023
- Begin Construction - July 2023
- Complete Construction - November 2023
What are the significant concerns for the project?
The Transportation Concept Report for Route 14 identifies a current Level of Service (LOS) “D”. With no highway improvements the LOS will further deteriorate to an unacceptable level. This project proposes the conversion of the existing 2-lane conventional highway into a 4-lane express.
This project will improve this segment of highway to the concept LOS of “B”, and to the Concept Facility of a “4 lane expressway”. The improvements planned as part of this project for the intersections with Route 178 west and Route 178 east are compatible with planned improvements to Route 14 and will be required to maintain the concept LOS on Route 14.
Caltrans, City of Ridgecrest, Kern County, INYO County, Mono County and Kern COG partnered and participated in the development of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to fund project. Kern County’s Council of Governments’ “Regional Transportation Plan” states that “Deficiencies are currently being experienced on Route 14 and will continue to be experienced until the route is four lanes for the entire length within Kern County”. They also recognize the need for safety and operational improvements at the intersections within the project limits and are in support of this project.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) owns the majority of the land adjoining the highway throughout the limits of the project. There are a few pockets of privately owned land interspersed within the BLM land at the southern end of the project and a number of private parcels on both sides of the highway between Route 178 east and the northern limits of the project. Access to all private lands will be provided by either frontage roads or on a case by case basis, access openings onto the highway.
Environmental Document and Technical Studies:
- None at this time
Dennee Alcala, Project Manager
500 S. Main Street, Bishop, CA 93514
Angela Calloway, Environmental Manager
500 S. Main Street, Bishop, CA 93514
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