The brand-new never-opened Fairfax Road offramp of westbound Highway 178 must be demolished and rebuilt because of a design flaw, the Bakersfield public works department confirmed Monday.
It's a ''huge safety issue'' and could be a million-dollar mistake.
The offramp is too steep and Public Works Director Raul Rojas says a driver who makes a last-minute decision to exit the highway could flip over.
On a scale of 1-to-10, he described the mistake by design firm Parsons Brinckerhoff as a 6 or 7.
"These plans were reviewed by everybody including Caltrans but on a plain piece of paper it's really difficult to view the 3D grade differential," Rojas said.
Parsons Brinckerhoff copped to the mistake in several letters to the city and has agreed to foot the $800,000 to $1 million bill to redesign the ramp, tear the old one out, and build a new one, Rojas said, pointing out no taxpayer money would be involved in the fix.
"It's a huge safety issue with Caltrans in how they view offramps," Rojas said. "The new design is very near completion and we will hopefully wait for Caltrans to approve it. Then we'll get it out to bid in December or January."
Asked if he thought the mistake was embarassing, Rojas said he thought it would be for the engineers.
But Rojas also said he would hire the firm again.
"Mistakes happen, sometimes worse then others," Rojas said. "This is on the bad end of the scale."
"However if you fix it and take responsibility, that's all you can ask," he added.