A $1.9 million federal highway grant has jump-started a plan by the county and Hesperia to turn a scenic seven-and-a-half mile stretch of Summit Valley Road into a four-lane arterial.


Construction for the $21-million project, which is in its initial design and environmental review phase, could begin in 2011 with completion in 2013.


"Once we get the funding we can move forward," said Chris Nguyen, project manager for the county's Department of Public Works.


On Wednesday, April 22, the county, city of Hesperia and Irvine-based consulting firm Stantec Consulting Inc. conducted an informal public workshop in the Hesperia Library's Community Room. About 25 area residents and others interested in the project viewed maps and spoke one-on-one with Nguyen and other project managers and consultants.


Under the plan, the current alignment of Summit Valley Road will remain essentially the same with the exception of minor straightening. However, more noticeable design changes will be made near the county fire station near Highway 138.


In addition to widening and straightening, the project will include drainage facilities at stream crossings, a 12-foot median, 10-foot shoulders and five-foot unpaved sidewalks.


According to Ramesh Gupta, project manager for Stantec Consulting, the road's current traffic volume is 3,745 vehicles per day. Gupta projects around 7,000 vehicles will travel the road every day by 2030.


During Wednesday's meeting, attendees were invited to fill out cards with additional questions. Those questions - along with answers by project officials - will be available next week at www.sbcounty.gov/dpw. Visitors should click on the "Summit Valley Road" button, according to Roni M. Edis, public information officer for the county's Department of Public Works.


Project funding will be sought after the county obtains the required environmental permits and obtains right of way, said Brendon Biggs, chief of the county's Transportation Planning Division.


"Once you've got a project that's designed and environmentally cleared, you have a project that's more marketable," Biggs said.


The Summit Valley Road project was identified in the 2004 San Bernardino Associated Governments' "Nexus" study. Such projects must qualify for to receive SANBAG Measure I 2010-2040 Valley Interchange and Major Street Funds, Biggs added.