FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --The demolition of the Tuolumne Street Bridge in Downtown Fresno began Monday.
The bridge is one of the main access points into Downtown, and it is being torn down to make way for high-speed rail.
When the bridge was built in 1958, it was part of Highway 41 and funneled traffic off of Highway 99 over the railroad tracks into downtown. It still carries about 5,000 vehicles a day, but that traffic is being re-routed without much difficulty.
Demolition crews are sizing up the big job ahead. The concrete and steel of this 50-foot high bridge will be coming down over the next few months. "Next week, you will start to see some of the concrete come down," Central Valley Regional Director of the High-Speed Rail Authority Diana Gomez said. "The rails and then the deck, some of the concrete."
Gomez says the first step will be building another bridge under this structure to keep all the debris from falling on the Union Pacific tracks. The demolition and construction of a new bridge is expected to take about a year-and-a-half. And, until it's done, traffic will be rerouted.
"We have several options to get to the Downtown area," Gomez said. "If you are coming from southbound Highway 99, you can always take 180 and Fulton Street into Downtown. If you are coming from the south, you can get off at Fresno Street."
The entire project is expected to mean some significant changes to traffic in and out of Downtown, but, right now, the only thing closed is the bridge between F Street and Broadway Street.
Once the bridge is torn down, and a new, taller one built to accommodate the high-speed trains, the Stanislaus Street overpass will be torn down.