As Hesperia turns 25, the city and its residents will get what many see as a long overdue gift: the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony of the Ranchero Underpass on June 29.
"There's no better way than to celebrate the milestone of our anniversary with the much anticipated Ranchero Underpass project," said Rachel Molina, interim community relations and media coordinator for the city. She's encouraging residents to come to the event and assist with the opening of the underpass at Ranchero Road and Santa Fe Avenue.
"It's one of the greatest events in the history of the city," Councilman Russ Blewett said.
The city was incorporated on July 1, 1988, according to Molina.
The original city council talked of the project in 1988, according to Rick Bakker, the son Percy Bakker, an original city council member, who was unavailable for comment.
Rick Bakker said motorists having to stop and go around over the last 50 years led to the original council considering the project in 1988.
"They wanted to increase the traffic on Ranchero and reduce it on Main," he said.
Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Yvonne Woytovich said, the chamber's neutral about the underpass.
"We're waiting to see how it will impact businesses on Main Street," Woytovich said. The underpass will be convenient for many and will "alleviate congestion" on Main Street, she said.
There are several benefits to using the underpass for Hesperia residents, according to Mayor Bill Holland.
The school district and public transportation could potentially save "thousands of dollars" in gas, he said.
Officials say residents living closer to Ranchero on the south side of Main Street may be able to cut 15 to 30 minutes off their driving time since they won't have to go all the way to Main Street.
The new "corridor of traffic" could also see new businesses growing in that area, Holland said, and it just may save more lives with the fire and police departments being able to respond more quickly to people in need.
"It's a dream come true for the people of this community and I couldn't be happier for everybody," Blewett said.
"Just another reason in a series of reasons that signals Hesperia has truly become a very important city in the High Desert," Holland said.
The ceremony will be held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 29 and will include a 5K walk/run, ribbon cutting and a classic car parade. According to Dan Sousa, there will be bounce houses, a bounce obstacle course, face painting and a magician on hand to entertain, as well as fire engines and police vehicles on display. For more details visit www.CityOfHesperia.us or call 760-947-1019.