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SANBAG approves $44M for Ranchero interchange

Bridge could break ground by end of 2012, open July 2014

Staff Writer

Victor Valley motorists are closer to being able to get off Interstate 15 a little earlier, thanks to a decision by a regional transit authority.

San Bernardino Associated Governments voted 24-0 on Wednesday to divert money from previously approved but now stalled regional transportation projects and send those funds to the long-awaited Ranchero interchange project.

“Everything’s moving forward,” said Hesperia city councilman Mike Leonard, the council’s representative to SANBAG. “Another step closer.”

Federal funds and redevelopment dollars were to pay for the estimated $59 million interchange, but Gov. Jerry Brown shut down the state’s redevelopment agencies and federal money has been slow in coming from a gridlocked Congress.

On Wednesday, SANBAG approved diverting $44.1 million in funding to the project. SANBAG will ask the California Transportation Commission for an additional $24.4 million in state funds, with any surplus available for other SANBAG projects.

If all goes well, city manager Mike Podegracz said the project would be under construction by late 2012 or early 2013.

“It gets us going in the right direction, when at one point, we were worried we’d have to shut the project (down) because funding wasn’t available,” city spokeswoman Kelly Malloy said.

Construction would take about 18 months with a target July 2014 opening of the interchange, a year after the $27 million Ranchero underpass is expected to be complete. The two projects will allow Hesperia and Apple Valley commuters to get off the freeway before the busy Main Street and Victorville exits and get home without putting yet more traffic on Main Street and Bear Valley Roads.

“The council did take a risk by going ahead and designing the project and having it shovel-ready,” Podegracz said. “The risk will hopefully pay off.”

There are currently no funds for the $15 million final portion of the Ranchero Corridor project — widening the two-lane road to six lanes from the underpass through the interchange — which will be a joint project of the city and San Bernardino County.

Beau Yarbrough may be reached at (760) 956-7108 or at beau@HesperiaStar.com.


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