Hesperia's final regulatory hold-up for a decades-in-the-making underpass project has been cleared.


The Federal Highway Administration approved the Ranchero Road Underpass project last week, with the city receiving the final necessary authorization on Monday.


"We've got the final approval, believe it or not, for the Ranchero undercrossing," Mayor Mike Leonard told the audience at Tuesday night's city council meeting.


The FHWA took only four days to approve the project, he said.


"It took Caltrans longer to write the approval letter than the feds took to approve it," said Leonard.


When the underpass is completed, Ranchero Road will be only the city's third east-west crossing of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad track that bisects Hesperia, along with Main Street and Bear Valley Road. Thirty-nine thousand cars use the Main Street crossing every day, according to the city. Officials are already working on two more Ranchero-related projects: widening the road and building an interchange with Interstate 15.


The $27 million project is fully funded, according to the city, including $11.6 million in state and federal funds and $15.4 million from the city's redevelopment agency.


The underpass project was discussed before there even was a city of Hesperia. The project was put on the drawing board in 1989, a year after the city incorporated in 1988, but it was put on the back burner in favor of other road projects due to its cost. The city put a renewed focus on the underpass project in 2002.


The city will begin accepting construction bids on Tuesday, June 28, and the city council is expected to vote on the bid in August. If all goes according to schedule, the project will break ground in September. Construction is expected to take approximately 26 months.


"If we get these road jobs going, we'll put a lot of people back to work," said Leonard.


At that point, there will be a one-mile, four-lane stretch of Ranchero Road between Seventh and Danbury Avenues giving commuters and residents an alternative to two of the Victor Valley's busiest roads, Main Street and Bear Valley Road.


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