CALIFORNIA CITY — Councilmember Kelly Kulikoff would like to see dividers down the two-lane California City Boulevard, the main route from Highway 14 into Cal City, and a road that is often the scene of collisions and near-collisions.
He brought the topic to the City Council at its meeting, on Tuesday, for discussion, but the legalities, feasibility and cost of the project remains unknown.
Kulikoff proposed installing flexible delineator posts between the west- and eastbound lanes, as well as creating passing lanes at some points on stretch between the highway and the center of town.
“We have that long stretch of road, and it is dangerous, and we have to figure out some sort of solution to it,” he said.
Kulikoff based his idea on sections US Route 395, and also suggested that increasing the speed limit from 55 mph to 65 mph — as on 395 — would reduce the number of accidents caused by drivers attempting to pass.
The length of California City Boulevard to Highway 14 is part of the city’s road system, and is not under Caltrans’ control, he said.
Councilmember Jim Creighton observed the differences between California City Boulevard and Route 395, in that the highway has much wider and paved shoulders and space for a center divider with the delineators, something not found on the boulevard.
He also offered some brief calculations on cost, estimating that the delineators alone for the approximately five-mile section, from Baron Boulevard to the highway, would cost $84,000 to $212,000. This doesn’t include installation costs, nor the maintenance costs.
Creating passing lanes, using the rule-of-thumb cost of $1 million per mile of road, would cost at least $500,000, he said.
State and federal road funding is allocated through the Kern Council of Governments, which has a low-priority plan for widening the boulevard to four lanes, Mayor Pro Tem Nick Lessenevitch, the Council’s representative to Kern COG, said.
“I don’t see them giving us any money for anything on that project,” he said. “Nothing’s going to happen soon.”
The city could apply for different state or federal safety-related grants, but would probably score low, based on the city’s small population, Ramon H. Pantoja, of the city’s engineering firm BHT, said.
It is also not clear if the city has the authority to declare the road a no-passing zone or to increase the speed limit, at least without traffic studies to support it.
Acting Police Chief Jesse Hightower said the delineators “would cause a huge headache, not only for my crew, but also for (the Fire Department).”
Hightower said he could provide the most recent traffic survey — completed, about three years ago — as well as information on collisions to the Council.
Interim City Manager Jim Hart suggested having staff look at the issue with a more global perspective to determine potential remedies.
“Give it some time to take a good look at this,” he said, before bringing recommendations for the Council in a month or two.
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