Repairs Will Open First Street Bridge In Barstow To Trucks By January

(September 7)  Stopgap repairs on Barstow’s historic First Street Bridge should be completed by January, city and Caltrans officials have indicated.
Built in 1930, the bridge is a key route of ingress to and egress from Barstow’s Railyard, the largest in the world. Connections from the railyard to the major roads and highways in the area have been hampered since 2010, when the city and Caltrans instituted weight limits on vehicles using the bridge, with the maximum load for a four-axle vehicle being 15 tons, well under the normal legal weight limit for most bridges of 40 tons.
Problems with the bridge, precipitated by an earthquake or trucks bearing excessive loads over the structure, were first recognized in 2003, triggering a directive from Caltrans that refurbishing and shoring up of the bridge be immediately undertaken. No repairs were ever made, however, and in 2010, Caltrans imposed the current weight restrictions. The Barstow City Council at that point approved repairs to a column and bracing other supports at a cost of $190,000. In 2011, an  inspection uncovered further damage to support beams.
In essence, traffic across the bridge is restricted to non-commercial vehicles such as cars, pickups, and SUVs, and small load commercial vehicles such as four-wheel stakebeds and the like. Larger vehicles such as 18-wheel tractor-trailers cannot use the bridge. Moreover, large public transportation vehicles including busses and public safety vehicles like fire engines must route themselves around the bridge. In the case of fire emergencies in north Barstow, this represents a potential safety hazard, as fire battalions are delayed in their responses.
The city has completed plans for repairs that will allow the weight bearing capacity of the bridge to be returned to the traditional 40 tons. Upon review and approval by Caltrans, the work will be initiated and completed within three months.
Meanwhile, the city has applied for federal assistance in undertaking a future total reconstruction of the bridge, which is estimated to cost in the neighborhood of $45 million. That project will not begin, at the earliest, until 2015.

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