The North First Avenue Bridge is located in rural Barstow and serves as a critical lifeline between its residents and essential services. Unfortunately, the bridge is structurally deficient. It currently has a bridge rating of less than 40 of 100, and was recently rated as low as “2” before temporary timber supports were added.
Its antiquated design creates safety and access concerns for motorists and pedestrians alike. Built in a pre-ADA era, the absence of sidewalks for pedestrian use equates to limited choices for members of this economically and socially disadvantaged community, including connectivity to the Barstow Amtrak station.
In addition, the bridge spans over some of the more active Burlington Northern Santa Fe lines that carry a large percentage of the nation’s cargo to points east. Any disruption to these lines can severely impact supply chain timelines and disrupt the economic opportunities for many of the western and Midwest states. Given the structural deficiencies of the bridge, these freight tracks are at great risk.
Environmental clearance, Final Design, and Right-of-way Certification have all been completed in preparation for this important project. The only hurdle remaining for this shovel-ready project is construction funding. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) has made a commitment to fund necessary repairs to roads and bridges across the nation. Nearly $850 Million dollars have been slated for California for each of the next five years to address its more critical bridges. Using a portion of that investment to close the funding gap for the North First Avenue Bridge is a logical and prudent use of these funds.