The Riverside County Transportation Department closed Magnolia Avenue in both directions from Lincoln Street to Buchanan Avenue in Riverside on Jan. 20 to construct a bridge over the city’s railroad tracks on Magnolia Avenue.
This yearlong project, estimated to be finished by February 2016, was started because of multiple car accidents caused by vehicles stopping on the railroad tracks. The RCTD estimated 12,900 vehicles used the street each day in 2009 with that number expected to increase to about 26,000 in 2035.
The traffic bridge, according to RCTD, will make it safer for pedestrians, reduce traffic and delays, and improve access for emergency vehicles. When the six-lane bridge opens, vehicles will drive above the train tracks and eliminate the need for a crossing.
A $42.7 million plan is in place to close a mile of the street and construct a bridge funded from federal, state and local transportation agencies.
The closure of the streets affects some businesses in the area as well as many commuter students who used the streets to get to and from California Baptist University.
Jonathan Haddad, sophomore criminal justice major and commuter, said he has to leave 10 minutes earlier to get to school because of the closure.
“It slows down coming to school so much,” Haddad said. “I hope they get done with all that construction soon because then I can have an extra 10 minutes of sleep, and that goes a long way.”
Some commuter students at CBU who use these streets will have to use an alternate route for the next two semesters. RCTD suggests drivers use a primary detour route gong south to Indiana Avenue or north to Sampson Avenue.
RCTD hired Falcon Engineering Services to build a bridge over the railroad tracks. Wael Faqih, project manager of Falcon Engineering, said the plan to officially close the area and begin construction was decided in December.
“We never anticipated doing this project, but there were almost 17 (near-death accidents) that were reported,” Faqih said. “We started construction on Jan. 20 and have been in contact with railroad companies and the city.”
Faqih explained that this construction would not affect businesses along the construction route.
“We met with local businesses and set up signs to help promote their business as well as alerted the public about different alternate routes they can take,” Faqih said.
Local businesses are preparing to lose a significant amount of business due to the construction happening on the street in which they are located.
Kevin Dobboghian, owner of
Inland Mercedes and BMW Repair, works where the construction has impacted the route his customers would normally take.
“The construction is not affecting our business yet but who knows,” Dobbighian said. “We’re just going to have to deal with it being in our backyard. I wish I had a crystal ball that told me what will happen in the future, but I just don’t know. We will see what happens within these next couple of months.”