It's been a very long time coming, but the Ranchero Road Undercrossing is getting measurably closer to breaking ground.


Only three of the original 52 homeowners the city needed to receive right-of-way approval to break ground on the project have not signed off on it yet.


The undercrossing would provide travelers with a second point to cross the BNSF railroad tracks that divide the city in two.


"The biggest struggle that our contractor has been facing has been finding the owner" of the three remaining properties, city spokeswoman Kelly Malloy said Friday. "Given the current economy, properties are changing from one owner, to the bank, back to the holding company. ... We're managing to locate them now, so we can move forward."


After decades of preparation, 2010 looks like it might finally be the year that construction crews begin digging beneath the railroad tracks.


"We're hoping to break ground in the beginning of the next fiscal year ... sometime in July or August."


Once construction work begins, the city estimates the project will take 14 to 16 months to complete, and be open to motorists in the fall of 2011.


"We're pretty confident" about the timetable, Malloy said. "We've come a long way. Obviously, we've been working on this project a long time."


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 760-956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star