Jeffrey Alvarez grew up in South Colton. He remembers crossing under the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad company bridge that stands on 6th and Fogg Streets.
Today, according to Alvarez, the bridge is on the verge of collapse.
“The bridge is shifting,” said Alvarez. “Recently a steel support was fixed with a big steel plate and many bolts…One good tremor and I believe there will be issues and possibly more.”
However, when asked about the condition of the bridge BNSF California representative Lena Kent explained that the bridge was structurally sound, despite being hit by several semi-trucks recently.
“Our inspectors looked at the bridge and deemed it to be structurally sound,” Kent said. “I know it has been hit by trucks because they use it when they shouldn’t be. Aesthetically it has done damage to the concrete, but it has not made it unsafe for trains to travel over it.”
Kent explained that BNSF does it best to inspect bridges–primarily those that are used periodically.
“It’s a very busy line for us,” she said. “We already inspect more than what is required from us by the Federal Railroad Administration. We are not going to jeopardize our employees, communities, or customers goods by going over something that is not structurally sound.”
Alvarez’s concerns come in the wake of a recent bridge collapse that took place on July 19 on the Interstate 10 Freeway in Indio. Rushing water caused by heavy rain flooded into the wash beneath the bridge and ate away at the dirt around the foundations. Eventually, one end of the eastbound lanes cracked free of the highway and tumbled to the desert floor, cutting the primary route between Arizona and Southern California. Last year, the bridge was inspected by the Federal Highway Administration and given an “A” rating.
Alvarez also looked at the Mt. Vernon Bridge in San Bernardino and found that the bridge was being supported by lumber beams.
“I would guess that this bridge isn’t maintained to the specifications,” he said. “I would like to see the bridge be given attention before it is required. These people should be able to prevent a major issue.”