Stalled projects may mean life for Ranchero interchange
Hesperia pushes SANBAG to move funds from dormant projects to freeway interchange
Not every project funded by the Hesperia Redevelopment Agency will be buried with it.
Officials are hoping a regional transportation authority can replace funds that were to come from the Hesperia RDA for a new freeway interchange by taking money set aside for other projects that have since stalled.
The Ranchero/Interstate 15 interchange was to be the third stage of the planned Ranchero Corridor project, which began with the Ranchero Road Underpass and a planned widening of the road to four lanes from the BNSF railroad tracks to the freeway.
Federal and redevelopment dollars were to pay for the estimated $58 million interchange, but Gov. Jerry Brown has shut down the state’s redevelopment agencies and federal monies have been slow in coming from a gridlocked Congress, leaving Hesperia about $25 million short.
“(The Hesperia Redevelopment Agency) is gone and the federal transportation bill keeps lagging,” Hesperia City Manager Mike Podegracz said. “So we now have a project that’s very close to going out to bid for construction,” but no funds to pay for it.
Enter San Bernardino Associated Governments, the regional transportation authority that allocates funds to serve transportation needs. When the recession hit, a number of projects less far along than the interchange have stalled out. SANBAG has to use the federal and state funds it receives each year if it wants to keep receiving more. The agency’s and Hesperia’s problems may have a single solution: diverting funds from projects currently going nowhere to Hesperia’s new freeway interchange.
SANBAG members have yet to approve the idea, and Hesperia officials have more work to do themselves.
“We have some hurdles to achieve and try to get the job advertised by summer,” said Podegracz, including securing two more right-of-way agreements from property owners, coordinating with utility companies and getting the relevant federal and state permits. “A lot that has to happen, (and) it has to happen quickly.”
But SANBAG has long recognized that the project would ease congestion around the Victor Valley, he said.
“We still have a long way to go before this thing happens, but there is a possibility,” Podegracz said. “If we can’t get this worked out, then we can’t see this thing happening for a very long time.”
SANBAG’s Mountain/Desert regional committee is expected to take up the issue at their meeting on Friday.
Beau Yarbrough may be reached at (760) 956-7108 or at beau@HesperiaStar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star.