The Ranchero Road Underpass is making measurable progress toward becoming a reality: The city of Hesperia has acquired the right of way on 40 out of 52 pieces of property needed to begin construction in 2010.

"As of last week, we were down to about 12 properties that still had to be sent offers and get a response," Director of Development Services Scott Priester said Thursday. "The balance of them, they were pretty much on-board with selling parts [of their property]."

The pieces of property needed range from "80 square feet to full parcels," and will allow for Ranchero Road to be widened to four lanes from Danbury Avenue, under the BNSF railroad tracks via the new underpass and then to 7th Avenue.

"Realistically, it may go to early winter, January or February, before it's all wrapped up," said Priester. "We're keeping our fingers crossed that everyone's cooperative."

The underpass is a project literally decades in the making, but state regulations prohibited the city from doing advance work by, for instance, buying up the right of way while the California Department of Transportation approved the underpass plans.

Instead, each step must be done in a serial fashion: After the land is acquired, only then can the city start looking for someone to actually build the underpass.

"If [all goes according to schedule], by next April or May, we'd be going out to bid for construction," said Priester.

It will take approximately 12 to 15 months from groundbreaking until the public is able to use it to trim their daily commute by cutting out the bottleneck of the Main Street railroad overpass.

"Since our project involves federal funding, the project has to be administered through CALTRANS, so it's their procedures."

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com. Follow us on Twitter at Twitter.com/HesperiaStar.