By Clarissa Toll |Staff Writer|
Construction for a grade separation bridge at the intersection of Palm Avenue and Cajon Boulevard is underway.
With the completion of this bridge and the elimination of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad crossing, traffic will be able to flow without waiting for passing trains.
The bridge will consist of two lanes and is estimated to cost $36 million, as stated on the San Bernardino Associated Governments (SanBAG) website. The project will be funded by the Trade Corridor Improvement Fund and other local funds.
The construction is set to last for 18-24 months with an approximated completion in Summer or Fall of 2015, according to SanBAG spokeswoman, Jane Dreher, in her interview with The Sun.
“The existing Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) rail at Palm Avenue is an at-grade crossing and after we separate the rail from the road by building a bridge or underpass it becomes a grade separation,” explained Rusty Thornton, Director of the Leonard Transportation Center at CSUSB.
Safety and time constraints are the biggest factors for the project due to the length of the trains in this area and the time it takes for them to pass.
The bridge will provide less congestion and more safety for drivers.
This relief of backup and absence of railroad crossing will rid the possibility of delay for emergency response vehicles as well.
Air pollution is expected to decrease.
“Eliminating X number of vehicles with their engines idling for five minutes should have a positive affect on air quality,” said Thornton.
Two and a half grams of carbon monoxide enter the atmosphere every minute a car sits idling, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
A decrease in the area’s noise without the need for a train crossing signal or trains’ horns is another possibility.
Improvements have begun on Industrial Parkway and Institution Road along with the construction of the bridge.
At the intersection of Palm and Industrial, the road will be raised eight to ten feet, according to Dreher.
In a small poll, 8 out of 16 students said that they commute.
Many students, commuting or local, use the Palm/Kendall freeway exit which lies just a couple hundred feet from the construction.
When asked her opinion on the recent ongoing improvements, Andrea Alonzo, who commutes from Orange County, said “It’s going to be super great.”
Other projects similar to this one have been taking place all over the Inland Empire.
The grade separation at the Colton crossing and the 10 freeway separates east-west trains from north-south trains so neither has to stop and wait. The separation was recently finished in August and the Lenwood bridge in Barstow is set to be finished by December 2015 along with other locations.
“As you can see, transportation encompasses many areas and a bridge over a railroad can impact safety, the community, the economy, create jobs, address environmental concerns and more,” said Thornton.
For more research and information on transportation, contact the Leonard Transportation Center on campus.