The North First Avenue Bridge Project in Barstow has had a dubious record for years. Built in 1930, it has fallen into disrepair over the decades, earning a sufficiency rating from Caltrans of 3 out of 100 back in 2012.
The bridge is classified as both structurally deficient and functionally obsolete, and was recently closed for a month as a result of damage caused by a head-on vehicle crash. And yet, it continues to function because of the role it serves as a critical access point over a Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railyard to the northern part of the city.
Thanks to funding from Measure I – the voter-approved half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements in San Bernardino County – the North First Avenue Bridge story is about to change. The project is funded by Federal Highway Bridge Program funds, other federal and state funds, City of Barstow funds, and approximately $5.6 million in Measure I funds.
A groundbreaking event was held in late January and construction started on this major project including new access roadways to the bridge, a new two-lane bridge, and the demolition of the old bridge once the new bridge is open to traffic. The replacement bridge will enhance traffic safety, improve ADA access, enhance pedestrian walkways, bicycle safety and re-establish a safety connection between the two parts of the City of Barstow – the residential north portion and the downtown business district.
SBCTA administers Measure I revenue and determines which projects receive Measure I funding. The half-cent sales tax was first approved 1989, and overwhelmingly extended in 2004 by and 80-20 margin.