Big changes are expected to hit one of downtown's most heavily traveled roads.
"We all know there's a problem on 24th Street the way the traffic's getting worse all the time," said Kathleen Ellis Faulkner, a local resident. "But the plans that they've put forward or the lack of plans that they've put forward are totally unacceptable."
Faulkner and dozens of other residents met Sunday night at Jastro Park to talk about the 24th Street Widening Project, which would add additional lanes to the road, to eliminate gridlock.
The plans are proposed by the Thomas Roads Improvement Program, also known as TRIP, which designed two alternative routes to add lanes on 24th Street in each direction to the 99 freeway just east of M Street.
Janet Wheeler of TRIP said one alternative of the project would demolish homes on the North side of the street. The other option would take away homes on the South side.
"Bakersfield has grown considerably over the 50 years," Wheeler said. "But 24th Street has remained virtually unchanged, we need this project to reduce congestion."
Some concerned residents lashed out against the project saying it's unattractive and unlivable.
"What they will see with the plans is they have is no trees, two strips of asphalt," Faulkner said. "People's houses being compromised on the North side particularly, and some beautiful homes taken out on the South side."
Dave Cross is an architect who runs a business in downtown Bakersfield. He says if the plan proceeds, TRIP should look at how to enhance to make it safe for people to walk and for kids to crossing from the North side to Jastro Park.
"What they've done is they've pitted against the north against the south," Cross said. "We're either going to take the northern houses or the southern houses, and I thought we ended that in the 1860's after the civil war."
Many residents are planning to write complaint letters to TRIP.
"People know that we care about our city," Faulkner said. "We want it to be a beautiful place, not just another ugly freeway."
Homeowners can ask questions and voice their concerns at a public hearing Tuesday, June 25, 2012 at Rabobank Convention Center from 4 to 7 p.m.
Construction could take 18 months to complete and is scheduled to begin in early 2014.