From the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s to the heydays of the 1950s and ’60s, a steady stream of Americans used dozens of wooden timber bridges along Route 66 in San Bernardino County.
More than half a century later, many of the 127 bridges are in need of repair or replacement.
On June 2, San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Robert A. Lovingood supported a plan that includes federal funding to reconstruct 31 bridges along a 118-mile stretch of the historic highway between Daggett-Yermo Road to Mountain Springs Road in the Ludlow, Amboy and Essex areas.
“This isn’t just about preserving old Route 66,” Lovingood said. “This project is critical to provide an alternate route when Interstate 40, a goods-movement corridor, experiences unanticipated emergency closures.”
The segment of National Trails Highway (Route 66) attracts national and international tourism. Portions of the “Mother Road” in the Mojave Desert are currently closed because of the condition of some bridges.
The 31 bridges are less than 20 feet in length and span dry washes.
The cost to rebuild the 31 bridges is estimated at $40 million. San Bernardino County is in the process of applying for a federal grant that would cover most of that cost.
The County will continue to seek other sources of funding, including funds for the additional 96 bridges that are over 20 feet in length, as well as funding for the roadway surface rehabilitation.
It is anticipated that the cost to replace all the Route 66 bridges and rehabilitate the roadway surface, including the cost associated with environmental review/mitigation, engineering and other administrative work, is between $150 and $180 million.