Caltrans has awarded the City of Bakersfield a grant worth $500,000, Mayor Karen Goh announced Tuesday. The mayor said the money will go towards removing trash and debris from our highways, and will provide jobs to the homeless.
The grant is a boost to an existing project dedicated to cleaning state highways running through Bakersfield, including state routes 99, 58, and 178.
“We have a wonderful community, and we want our our freeways to reflect aesthetically, the people,” Goh, who also serves as president and CEO of Garden Pathways, said.
The effort is in collaboration with the Bakersfield Homeless Center. 24 people from the center will be hired to do the work; the mayor believes the new jobs are good for those at the Homeless Center, and for motorists.
“24 people getting new jobs [will] go out there and help clean vegetative debris and litter from our freeways,” she said.
Michael Turnipseed of the Kern Taxpayers Association said he supports the support the idea, but added the one-time grant might not be enough.
“I’m really skeptical about using one-time money to maintain projects that have long-term costs,” he said. “You can’t do anything for the long term if you only have one-time money.”
But the mayor said the city needs the funds to make cleaner roadways.
“We’ll have hard working people who go out there getting there start,” she said. “Our residents are going to be delighted that we have a clean community. “
Mayor Goh said debris and trash cleanup has already begun. She noted the city will continue to seek funding for the future, and added the collaboration between Caltrans and the Homeless Center is so successful that Caltrans is hoping to foster similar partnerships elsewhere.