BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Travelers approaching the city from the south know they’re coming into Bakersfield thanks in part to those green Caltrans signs on the side of the freeway and attached to overcrossings.
The city of Bakersfield has another greeting in mind.
In keeping with Bakersfield’s ongoing embrace of an important piece of its cultural heritage – the city where a generation of displaced Okies revolutionized American music back in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s – City Hall is moving ahead with new signage: A pair of Buck Owens-style red, white and blue guitars attached to the Hosking Road overpass, near the southern entrance to the city.
It’s an unmistakable visual reference to the Bakersfield Sound.
City Councilman Chris Parlier, whose 7th Ward includes the Hosking interchange, was inspired by greeting signage he saw in the city of Temecula and other communities, and he proposed something similar for Bakersfield. To his delight the million-dollar-plus project, which will include landscaping and other beatification elements, got the go-ahead.
“Well, I know it’s a go and it’s going through the Caltrans process right now for approval, especially attaching something to their bridge, along with an interchange upgrade,” Parlier said. “Talked to city management, it’s being budgeted, and it should be in place by summer or end of summer.”
Some of the design details – including drought tolerant landscaping – are in flux, but the faster Caltrans reviews the project, the faster the work can begin. Parlier says the project has a two fold purpose – celebrate the city’s musical past and attract freeway traffic to a part of the city, south Bakersfield – that’s about to explode with commercial activity in the next two years or so.
“It’s fairly expensive but I really think it’s deserved,” Parlier said, “not only for that interchange, and people coming into our community, but we have a lot of redevelopment that’s coming in fairly soon I would say within the next two years to those vacant lots and as we dress up our interchange I think it’s going to help shepherd people off the freeway into those shopping centers and let them know Bakersfield is a special place.”
Bakersfield has had some memorial welcome signs before.
The Bakersfield arch, built in 1949 and spanning Union Avenue – which was then U.S. 99 – until 1999 when it was demolished and recreated just off Buck Owens Boulevard – courtesy of Buck himself.
And the two Sun Fun Stay Play signs, one at each end of the city, erected in the late 60s and taken down in the early ‘80s — among other memorable local signage.
Now a newcomer to the Welcome to Bakersfield historical collection – one that p[lays on the new city logo and slogan – the Sound of Something Better. Until we hear something better – we’re calling this the Dang Twang Overhang.