Route 66 News

City of Barstow gets $5M grant to help replace historic First Avenue Bridge

The City of Barstow, California, recently received a $5 million state grant to help replace the First Avenue Bridge that leads to the Harvey House and its Route 66 Mother Road Museum.

According to a news release Sunday from city manager James Hart:

The City of Barstow requested $5,000,000 million dollars from the Railroad Grade Separation Program with money to be utilized for items such as decorative street lights, the bridge aesthetic improvements, and other bridge components. “To replace a structurally deficient bridge over one of United States’ main east-west Trans-continental railroad lines with a new structure that will minimize impacts to the BNSF facilities below is a great win for our City,” stated Mayor Dr. Paul Anthony Courtney. “This project will not only enhance traffic safety, but will 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.” […]
The existing bridge was built in 1930 and had been deemed structurally deficient and functionally obsolete. The current project includes the construction of new approach roadways, a new 1,178’ structure with 2-12’ lanes, one in each direction, 2-8’ shoulders, an 8’ barrier-protected pedestrian walkway along the east side of the structure, and demolition of the old structure once the new facility has been opened to traffic.

As reported in March, Barstow is motivated to replace the bridge because if it collapsed onto the BNSF tracks, the city could be fined $30,000 to $40,000 per hour for impeding rail traffic.

Due to that liability, the city planned as long as eight years ago to replace the span. Work to replace it could begin as soon as October and be completed in 2024. The new bridge would be parallel to the old span.

According to data collected on, inspections in 2018 listed overall condition was listed as poor, with a sufficiency rating of 32.7 out of 100. It handles 14,000 vehicles a day.

Though not on Route 66, the bridge is traveled by many Mother Road enthusiasts because they want to visit the Route 66 Mother Road Museum housed inside Casa del Desierto, a Harvey House built in 1911.

(Image of the First Avenue Bridge via the City of Barstow)

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