HESPERIA High Desert commuters have reason to rejoice, after San Bernardino Associated Governments awarded a $36 million construction contract for the Ranchero interchange project.

Security Paving Company, Inc. of Sun Valley will begin work on the Interstate 15 project that will allow Hesperia and Apple Valley commuters access to the freeway via Ranchero Road, and should alleviate traffic on Main Street and other heavily traveled routes.

Groundbreaking on the interchange has not been set, but construction should begin in January, according to SANBAG public information officer Jane Dreher.

Additional funding from the California Transportation Commission and State-Local Partnership Program helped the city and SANBAG save $25.685 million which came from various state projects that came under budget.

SANBAG and the city expedited the start of the project in order to receive the additional funds which would have been lost if the contract was not awarded by December.

Two more phases in the Ranchero Road Corridor project include the future widening of Ranchero Road from the interchange to the railroad underpass, which is under construction.

"Construction plans get outdated, but we kept our plans updated and now we're shovel-ready," Councilman Thurston "Smitty" Smith said. "It's going to totally change traffic in the area."

Rene De La Cruz may be reached at (760) 951-6227 or at RDeLaCruz@VVDailyPress.com.