First Avenue Bridge in Barstow closed indefinitely after an accident

The First Avenue Bridge that leads to a Route 66 museum in Barstow, California, was closed to traffic after an accident last week and will remain off-limits indefinitely.

The Victorville Daily Press reports the city is keeping the historic span closed as it assesses damage from a head-on crash that occurred Wednesday afternoon.

It left both cars totaled and pinned against barriers on each side of the bridge that visibly buckled slightly against the impact.
“Due to last night’s vehicle collision, the Barstow First Avenue Bridge will remain closed indefinitely,” Kody Tompkins, the city’s general manager of environmental services, told the Daily Press in an email Thursday.
Barstow staff will use the closure to inspect the bridge, form a plan and gather materials “associated with any necessary repairs caused by last night’s crash,” Tompkins said.

The newspaper and the city gave no timeline of when the bridge would reopen.

The bridge is the main link from Route 66 in downtown Barstow to the Route 66 Mother Road Museum, located in a historic Harvey House next to the railroad tracks.

I asked Deb Hodkin, curator at the museum, in an email whether she’d seen any repair activity for the bridge:

“The best that we know and we asked today is that the City of Barstow is working on the bridge today making necessary repairs to reopen. We are watching for reports on an official date to reopen. Of course they are supposed to build a new bridge this year keeping the old bridge open until the new one is open. […] We are guessing by the end of this week the bridge will be reopened.”

An alternate way to get to the museum is to go over the Yucca Avenue railroad bridge on the city’s east side, then go west on Riverside Drive. Another way is from the north side of town on Old Highway 58, then south onto First Avenue.

The First Avenue Bridge, built in the early 1930s, is scheduled to be torn down after a new bridge is built next to it because of steep liability concerns, The new span, however, won’t be open until 2024 at the earliest.

UPDATE 2/5/2022: The City of Barstow announced on Facebook the bridge had been reopened after several weeks of repairs.

UPDATE 2/20/2022: The city closed the bridge indefinitely again, due to another accident on it.

(Image of a BNSF train rolling under the First Avenue Bridge in Barstow, California, by yankee artellerist via Flickr)

2 thoughts on “First Avenue Bridge in Barstow closed indefinitely after an accident

  1. Sorry to hear this. During my 4 visits to Route 66 in 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2017, I have always driven over that bridge to visit Debra and Ken at the Barstow Route 66 Museum and the historic Harvey House adjacent. Peter, England.

  2. I am sorry to realize that I’ve already made my last cruise over that classic steel girder bridge. When I went to visit the museums in the Casa del Desierto, it was good to drive slowly over the bridge and watch the steel pass by the window, A head-on crash in the middle of the bridge is Bad News. One wonder what the drivers were thinking that they were driving so fast as to total their cars there. They were lucky not to go over the guard rail and plunge to the bottom. However, I look forward to another visit to the museums there.

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