Barstow replacing historic bridge to support $1.5 billion BNSF Railway project and anticipated population double

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Historic Barstow Bridge on North First Avenue
Photo credit: City of Barstow

BARSTOW – Barstow is scheduled to break ground, January 2023, on the replacement of the city’s historic steel and wooden bridge. The infrastructure development supports BNSF Railway’s $1.5 billion investment to construct a rail facility that will bring more residents to the city. 

Built in 1930 and modified in 1943, the bridge, located on North First Avenue, no longer meets the structural and functional standards needed for the anticipated increase in population.

“As we gear up for the major BNSF Railway project, which will double our city’s population, this bridge replacement marks the beginning of the transformational change to our community,” said Barstow City Manager Willie Hopkins. “The bridge has served as the main thoroughfare for schools, hospitals and other services, and the new one will be a mark of improved goods movement as we embark on enhancing our city’s infrastructure.”

The new bridge will be modernized – constructed out of concrete.

Barstow City Engineering Services Administrator Domingo Gonzales says the sidewalk will be wider on one side for a pedestrian walkway, eight-foot shoulders for bicyclists, and a lookout point for people to view the railroad. Antique lighting will decorate the bridge.

This new bridge – funded through Federal Highway Bridge Program, state funds, Measure I funds, and the City of Barstow, is the first replacement in a series of three bridges slated for renovation. The next two are over the Mojave River and the river’s overflow area. Construction of those will start in two to three years.

Hopkins says the bridges are one of several infrastructure changes that will take place in the city prior to BNSF breaking ground on its railway project. 

BNSF plans to invest more than $1.5 billion to construct a state-of-the-art master-planned rail facility in Barstow. The Barstow International Gateway will be an approximately 4,500-acre new rail facility on the west side of Barstow, consisting of a rail yard, intermodal facility and warehouses for transloading freight from international containers to domestic containers. 

RELATED: BNSF $1.5B facility will bring ‘thousands of jobs to Barstow’

The project aims to relieve congestion around the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The facility will create 20,000 direct and indirect jobs for Barstow and other High Desert communities. 

“A lot of positive changes are in the works for Barstow, and we are excited to see it all come to fruition over the next several years,” said Hopkins.

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