Construction confusion on I-5 south through the Grapevine

Construction confusion on I-5 south through the Grapevine »Play Video
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — If you've made your way south on the Grapevine section of Interstate 5, you've probably found yourself pumping the brakes though construction zones. A road improvement project near Lebec started in May, but it has lasted a little longer than expected, revving up frustration for businesses and commuters in that area.

As of now, the No. 3 lane of southbound I-5 is closed completely until mid-July. Through the area there are several different signs warning drivers of the construction and alternate route. Exiting I-5 in the Lebec and Frazier Park area requires special attention for drivers if they don't want to miss their exit.

"I was very distraught that I wasn't going to get off and get home and have to go 8 miles out of my way, so I found an opening and went through the cones," said Lake of the Woods resident Robin Willoughby.

It was in early May that Caltrans started a concrete improvement project near Lebec, and, at one time, construction even closed the Frazier Mountain Park exit.

Caltrans says traffic on I-5 has been split and reduced to three lanes for the safety of road crews and drivers. But, with off-ramp and lane closures, the owner of Los Pinos Mexican restaurant said construction has not improved their bottom line.

"It’s really hard, all businesses have seen a decline," said Rocio Ramirez.

The Frazier Mountain Park Road exit is now open, but not all the time. Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 8 a.m., the exit is closed.

Local residents said all the changes are confusing.

"They've adjusted them numerous times, and I have missed my exit and had to go all the way through Gorman to get home," said Willoughby.

From frazzled nerves, to loss of income; community members hope the road will be finished before the busy season turns cold.

"In the summertime it's really busy, hit us right in our busy time of year," said Ramirez of Mount Pinos restaurant.

Caltrans says I-5 southbound construction is slated to be completed mid-July.

Last year, Eyewitness News asked Caltrans about I-5 north, from the Kern County line to the base of the Grapevine. The road there has been torn up for over a year now, but, according to Caltrans, they have secured funding and will begin repaving mid-July.