What is the Loop Overlook project and why is it needed?
Friends of the Tehachapi Depot
April 10, 2021
The Loop Overlook project is a joint effort between Kern County, Friends of the Tehachapi Depot and community stakeholders.
Once the project has been completed, the County Public Works Department will be responsible for the road maintenance, including any repaving, repairs, signage or drainage issues that may arise. As with all county roads, this is funded with tax dollars and grants obtained by the county.
The platform itself will be constructed of low maintenance materials and will be the responsibility of Friends of the Tehachapi Depot. Kern County District Two Supervisor Zack Scrivner has appointed his Field Representative, Laura Lynne Wyatt to work with an FOTD Overlook Committee to raise construction funds and to promote the project.
Wyatt explains the steps necessary to complete the project: "During the first phase of our efforts, we accomplished a lot of background work such as engineering plans, California State Parks permission to move the concrete monuments, recorded property easement, donated fill dirt and concrete and have raised just over $50,000 thanks to some generous major donors just to name a few. We launched our public phase on March 6 of this year and I'm proud to say that we have now raised approximately $62,000 of the $100,000 needed (in addition to pro bono work that will be provided by the County) toward the completion of the project."
The County of Kern has engineered the widening of the road, property easement has been obtained, Lehigh Cement has donated the concrete and the needed fill dirt for the project has been donated by the Loop Ranch. The Loop receives over 12,000 visitors a year according to estimates by Keith Sackewitz, who leads many tour bus groups that contact the FOTD to host tours. Sackewitz felt that the narrow road and limited parking area was difficult to safely navigate and dangerous for visitors viewing the Loop. The monuments that honor the railroad achievement are too close to the road and in bad shape. The 144-year-old Loop is known worldwide as one of the seven wonders of the railroad world and currently hosts an average of 38 trains per day. It was opened in 1876 and was named a California Historical Landmark in 1953. Details and progress on the project may be found at the FOTD website located at, http://www.tehachapidepot.com and the Loop Overlook Facebook page which may be accessed at http://www.facebook.com/Tehachapi-Loop-Overlook-102019308598507 .
Now that you know what the Loop Overlook project is and who is backing it, why do we need the Overlook you may ask? A reasonable question which is answered by the photo displayed with this article. The many visitors to the Loop are focused on watching the trains climb up or go down the Loop and catching that magic moment when the train "loops" over itself. Their attention is NOT focused on any on-coming traffic nor is it on respecting private property in the area.
A narrow two-lane road passes by the monuments and viewing area. On one side is a blind curve and the other a hill that blocks a driver's view of pedestrians that may be in the street. By constructing the Overlook, the monuments and viewing area will be moved roughly 15 feet away from the road and therefore keeps the viewers out of the road while still providing a safe "photo op." While parking is not the main feature of the Overlook, once the viewing area is extended beyond the roadside, the County will be able to make improvements to allow for road shoulder parking on either side of the road. Safety is the key!