BARSTOW — City officials face many challenges in marketing the Route 66 corridor that runs along Main Street. Some of those challenges can be seen by motorists traveling down Main Street. Others are hidden.

The Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board provides a feature on its website called GeoTracker. It provides locations for leaking underground storage tank cleanup sites. More than 60 sites identified by GeoTracker are located within the city limits of Barstow.

The good news is most of those sites are now considered closed cases. Remediation efforts by the owner of the properties and Lohanton Water board are complete. However, five properties in Barstow remain listed as open. Some of those sites have been on the list for almost 25 years.

"There are a number of gas stations around town. Some are closed down, some had leaky tanks. Some have closed down and had leaky tanks with contaminated soil," City Planner Mike Massimini said.

"Essentially, when you have an instance of contaminated soil as a result of these tanks and pipes, and whatever is leaking, the ground has to go through the remediation process. And in some cases, it makes it difficult to market that property. Even though, in most instances, as long as the new business is found not contributing to the contamination, they can build on it if the remediation act is not too stringent," Massimini said.

The city of Barstow has been aggressively marketing available properties to potential developers. Economic Development and Planning Manager Gaither Loewenstein admits most of the developer interest is in the Lenwood area. But he said the city has tried to market areas along the Route 66 corridor.

The city also recently unveiled a strategy to revive the Route 66 corridor on Main Street. A Portland, Oregon company called MIG was hired to help develop the plan. The plan includes goals, policies, action strategies, development standards and design guidelines with the goal of drawing more visitors to Barstow's segment of Route 66.

MIG released a draft specific plan in April that addressed a lot of appearance issues and suggests adding more color to the area. Signs and lighting are also addressed.

The five properties still on the leaky underground storage tank review list are located on East Main Street between the downtown area and the Barstow Mall. None of the sites have active businesses. They are mostly empty lots, except for two that have old structures. But some of the properties could be considered as potential targets for development.

Two of the sites are listed as open-inactive, which means no remediation is taking place for numerous reasons. Environmental and Planning Services Administrator Jennifer Riley pointed out that the owner listed for Transmission World at 1101 E. Main St. died several years ago.

According to Riley, the EZ Serve Texaco at 931 E. Main St. was sold to another owner who didn't keep up with taxes and was deported. She said it becomes difficult to determine who is responsible for the property.

Another property, located at 1700 E. Main St., is in the process of being remediated. Two other properties, a Terrible Herbst Station at 1710 E. Main St. and a Unocal at 1440 E. Main St., are listed at verification monitoring.

Thomas Gavigan, senior engineering geologist with the Lahontan district, said none of the sites threaten water supply wells. He explained that dissolved petroleum plumes are typically relatively small, on the order of hundreds of feet.

The State Water Board's low-threat UST Case Closure policy considers three potential exposure scenarios:

• Groundwater — This pathway considers whether petroleum in groundwater could be ingested;

• Vapor Intrusion — This pathway considers whether volatile chemicals in shallow soil or groundwater could migrate into a building and affect the air we breathe;

• Direct Contact — This pathway considers whether shallow soils with petroleum could be handled or ingested.

Gavigan said Lahontan has nominated the two inactive cases in Barstow for coverage under the Emergency, Abandoned, or Recalcitrant Program. This program allows the water boards or local agencies to hire contractors to clean up the remaining petroleum contamination that may pose a threat to human health, safety and the environment.

Mike Lamb can be reached at 760-957-0613 or lamb@desertdispatch.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @mlambdispatch.