High Desert residents can finally travel on the Ranchero Underpass that connects the east and west ends of Hesperia — to wherever it may lead them.
The City of Hesperia kicked off the 25th anniversary of its incorporation Saturday at the Ranchero Underpass grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony, which ended with a classic car parade and included free activities for kids such as a train ride, bounce houses and face painting among others.
Hesperia Recreation and Park District co-sponsored a 5K walk/run, according to recreation supervisor, Tim Glass, who said nearly 950 people registered for the event.
"Awesome — this is huge," Glass said of the opening. He recalled that 20 years ago Apple Valley had similar plans for Yucca Loma, which is still in the works, "so this is huge."
And for some Hesperia residents the connection took decades to come to pass.
"I bought my house in the area 30 years ago, off Ranchero and I was told it would happen any minute," Shelly Drylie said. "I'm happy, I think it's a positive step — good thing I didn't hold my breath."
"It's definitely is a milestone within our history," Drylie's husband and local historian, Gary "Griz" Drylie said Saturday morning. "It took approximately a little over 30 years from conception to finished product."
One new Hesperia resident, Annette Lopez, said she bought a house near Ranchero six months ago because she heard about the underpass.
"I'll be using this road a lot to commute to work and back,"said Lopez who works in Colton. "I'm happy it's open now."
"I'm actually pleased," said eight-year Hesperia resident Minerva Grobes. "It's going to be very convenient, I feel like it will be more connected." Although she's retired, she said her husband still works in San Bernardino. The underpass will cut time from his commute, time that can be spent with family, she said.
"Quite impressive, I think they're about 15 years too late, but what do I know?" said Larry Ledesma who has lived in Hesperia for almost 25 years. He said the underpass offers a shortcut to avoid freeway traffic when there are accidents or problems.
Ranchero Road residents Steve and Jenny Forrisdahl and their daughter Katlin, along with her friend Carly Veal, participated in the 5K run.
"Definitely will benefit us, we won't have to go all the way to Main to get across the tracks," Steve Forrisdahl said.
However, he said, he thinks traffic will get congested because Ranchero isn't finished and Ranchero should have been widened first.
For 15-year residents Larry and Lisa Bradt, the underpass lets them travel a shorter distance to visit friends, who are now just around the corner.
"It really cuts down on a lot of travel, not having to go all the way around," Larry Bradt said.
The two reflected on what it would look like once the event was cleared away.
"I bet it's going to change overnight coming through here," Larry Bradt said.
"That's right — tomorrow's a whole new day," Lisa Bradt said.