Bakersfield did demolish a neighborhood to build a highway

A few years ago, I made a post about how Bakersfield was planning to bulldoze a neighborhood to build yet another freeway. I am rarely in Bakersfield, so in those 5 years, I didn’t really follow the project, aside from knowing it was chugging along. (I actually did stop in Bakersfield in August for dinner, coming back from Six Flags, but didn’t explore). Usually, big infrastructure projects take years to happen. At the time, Bakersfield was looking at alternative routes. If it takes Fresno 10 years to build improved bus stops, Boston 30 years to extend a trolley route, and NYC 60 years to add a subway station, surely things in Bakersfield would move slowly. Demolishing an existing neighborhood is no small feat.

Well, Ryan Young recently took a visit and photographed the progress. The freeway is indeed under construction, and the neighborhood is gone. He reports:

Westpark is a neighborhood like any other in Central Bakersfield. It’s filled with single-story ranch homes from the 50’s and 60’s; its streets are wide, clean, and lined with orderly parked cars; its lawns are neatly divided by fully matured palm trees.

But Westpark is a neighborhood under siege.

Over the past several years, city bulldozers sliced a wide, sterile arc directly through the heart of the neighborhood; they razed at least 300 homes and 120 businesses. And now, where the humble homesteads of hundreds of families and retirees once stood, there is nothing–just woodchips and orphaned cross-streets as far as the eye can see.

So if Bakersfield is going to be build this freeway after all, then I hope we at least remember that we threw a community under that bulldozer. I hope we can say that, in the end, we did give a s—t.

Check out his post for his on-the-ground photos and a local news video from an aerial drone. It’s pretty shocking.

And it will only get worse. Right now things look empty – but peaceful. Add mountains of concrete, asphalt, and trucks, and that peacefulness will be gone forever. That neighborhood will never be the same. Property values will plummet, pollution will increase, and thousands of drivers will zoom by, on their way to their newly built homes on the outskirts of town.

Here are some comparison shots from Google.





For many in Bakersfield, this is the prosperous future. It looks like a dystopia to me.


Additionally, I took a quick peak at Streetview to see what the latest and greatest Caltrans design standards look like. I was actually pleased to see that at one new off-ramp, the sidewalk goes UNDER the ramp, instead of making people cross at a ramp where vehicles are expecting to exit at 50mph without stopping.


But sadly, this was the exception. Every other BRAND NEW on- and off-ramp looked like hot garbage for bicycles and pedestrians. Note this example,where a bicycle lane was removed and replaced with a sharrow, so two lanes could be added leading to an on-ramp. Horrendous.


5 Replies to “Bakersfield did demolish a neighborhood to build a highway”

  1. Well, sad to say but I think Bako is resurgent faster than Fresno. In fact, I estimate that Bako will be the largest CV city in 30 yrs. I’m not sure if the inside decisions made to do what they did, but I bet they get more people moving to their city because of it.

    1. Doubtful. There is no reason for anybody to be in Bakersfield. Those who are usually come from LA and due to high cost of living, but cost of living is cheaper in LA than it is to the bay area (more notably San Jose as it is the closest big city to Fresno (2 hours~) in contrast to bakersfield 2 hour proximity to LA. But there are closer more affordable big cities close to LA where there is no reason for those moving out of LA to go that far into bakersfield. Lancaster/Palmdale are still affordable and closer to LA. While Fresno is the next closest big city to San Jose. Within a 2 to 2 and half hour drive, and a potential high speed rail system that will take a mere 45 mins, how does one presume bakersfield will be the largest cv city in 30 years? Fresno is more setup to be the biggest and most relevant city in the central valley. Especially as clovis continues to grow and Madera’s recent developments off 41. If anyone is going to move to the valley, it’s going to be a place with a lot more people, more opportunities, and everyday amenities found in comparable big cities on the coast. You may underestimate how crazy housing is in San Jose. There are people I’ve met who commute from Sacramento to San jose for their tech job. Thats the same type of drive both time and mileage wise as it is to Fresno. The drive from Sac to san jose just has nicer roads compared to sj to fresno. There are tons of people who commute 2 to 3 hours EACH WAY to san jose because of traffic, from their homes in tracy and even stockton due to traffic. These are commutes that should only be 1 hour if there wasn’t traffic. I read somewhere that more than half of the population of Los Banos commutes to SJ or somewhere in the bay area to work. That’s at least 1 hour with no traffic and only if its to san jose. Of course there is always traffic so thats an easy 2 hours as they get stuck coming home on the 101 all through morgan hill and gilroy before the 152 and probably through it. With google about to start building a campus in downtown san jose right by the diridon station, the already high priced homes and rent will get even higher. Gilroy and morgan hill and even hollister is unaffordable for even the average middle income salary. Los Banos is a crap hole bedroom community with nothing except being an hour to SJ or Fresno. Only people in Fresno think its crazy that people would commute daily on HSR to san jose 45min-1hr each way. But many who work in san jose are already doing crazier commutes to bedroom communities that offer nothing but a false sense that they are only an 1hr from the bay. Bakersfield is not needed for LA, where Fresno is slowly building up to be a possible extension for those in San Jose, as many from SF/SJ already have flocked to Sacramento.

      1. WOW! Great points, that was the longest response I’ve ever seen!. But those points kind of justifies my point. people will flood to Banos, Stockton, Sac, Modesto BEFORE Fresno. Wheres Bako has the LA influx wanting to get away. Palmdale and Lancaster are cheap like Bako, but not by much. Plus, I think Bako plans better for growth. How many times has Fresno shot itself in the foot and lost things that would have helped them out as a regional powerhouse CV Running Horse, like losing the Met, like losing Valley Children’s hosp to Madera, like not acquiring the UC campus but instead it goind to Merced?? We tend to shoot ourselves in the foot that prevents our advancement. And if we DONT get the HSR maint facility and it instead goes to Bako or Visalia??,, we are doomed.

        1. Off topic, but just to let you know, on this new website, if you use the same name and email as a previously approved comment it should show up immediately (as this comment did). If you use a different name or email, it requires me to manually approve it.

  2. Fresno/Clovis needs to do this and build a highway from west to east north end of fresno. So one doesn’t have to back track having to go south just to hop back to get on to the 41 or 168 north. Or having go down herndon or shaw and hit lights. Of course we will never see this happen.

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