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Bakersfield Opens New Centennial Corridor Freeway

The two-mile freeway demolished a swath of the Westpark neighborhood: 271 homes, 15 multi-family buildings and 36 commercial structures

Bakersfield Centennial freeway ribbon-cutting this morning – via @JimScottKGET Twitter

This morning Caltrans and the city of Bakersfield celebrated the opening of the Centennial Corridor freeway.

The new $1.5 billion freeway closes a gap in Highway 58, extending it about two miles northwest from its prior terminus at Highway 99 to meet with the Westside Parkway.

Map of Bakersfield's Centennial Corridor SR-58 Freeway - screengrab from KGET

As with many freeway mega-projects, the Centennial Corridor freeway took a long time. Much of the federal funding was approved two decades ago, at the hand of the area's Congressmember William Thomas, who retired in 2007.

Construction took place in a few phases, lasting over a decade.

Map showing Bakersfield Centennial Corridor property demolitions - via Bakersfield project website
City of Bakersfield photo of swath of home demolitions for the Centennial Corridor freeway

According to several news accounts, the Centennial Corridor freeway project demolished a significant swath of Bakersfield's Westpark neighborhood, home to an estimated sixty percent people of color. About 1,000 residents were displaced as Caltrans tore out 271 homes, plus fifteen multi-family buildings (totaling 110 housing units), and 36 commercial structures (with 121 businesses).

City of Bakersfield photo of new Centennial Corridor freeway - via Twitter

Media accounts are asserting that new freeway will "eradicate decades of gridlock" and end a "traffic nightmare." However, it is a long-established fact that this sort of freeway expansion does the opposite. Adding more miles of freeway lanes means inducing more driving, resulting in more traffic congestion.

Opening event for Bakersfield's Centennial Corridor freeway - via Caltrans District 6 Twitter

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