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.
This proposed future project will upgrade approximately 6.2 miles of two-lane conventional highway to a four-lane expressway from 4.8 miles south to 0.5 mile north of State Route (SR) 178 west. This project is the second of three segments that will close the final two-lane “gap” on SR 14 between Mojave and the junction with US 395. It is consistent with both the Caltrans SR 14 Transportation Concept Report and the Kern County Regional Transportation Plan.
SR 14 is a Priority Interregional Highway in the Caltrans Interregional Transportation Strategic Plan, part of the National Network of truck routes, and included in the Caltrans Highway Freight Network. The highway is vital to the economy of the Eastern Sierra region; Increased recreational traffic volumes are expected.
The highway constitutes the principal access into Inyo and Mono Counties recreation areas. This project will address roadway safety, provide continuity for the SR 14 corridor, meet present and future vehicular and goods movement traffic demands, and bring the highway up to current design standards. It will include Complete Streets elements, such as new shoulders and intersection improvements that could benefit pedestrian and bicycle mobility.
The total estimated project cost is $102,260,000, but funding has not been identified for the next segment of the Freeman Gulch Widening project. Caltrans continues to look for funding opportunities and is working closely with local partners. Caltrans, Kern COG, Inyo County LTC, and Mono County LTC recognize the need for safety enhancements and operational improvements within the segment. Caltrans is developing projects that would provide incremental improvements while seeking funding for Segment 2.
What is significant about the project?
The partners jointly funding the project recognize the need for safety and operational improvements within the segment. The SR 14 Transportation Concept Report identifies a current Level of Service (LOS) of “D.” Without highway improvements, the LOS will further deteriorate to an unacceptable level. This project will improve this segment of highway to an
Caltrans, City of Ridgecrest, Kern County, Inyo County, Mono County and Kern COG partnered and participated in the development of an MOU to fund the 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 most of the land adjoining the highway throughout the limits of the project. There are a few pockets of privately-owned land at the southern end of the project and some 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.
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”.