Coachella’s bridge promotes safety, opportunity & progress

By Eduardo Garcia, Mayor of Coachella

What does it take to get a $17.6-million bridge built for less than $500,000? In the case of the Dillon Road grade separation at the intersection of Grapefruit Boulevard and Avenue 48 in Coachella, it took large grants from several key partners who understand the importance of enhancing the infrastructure of a rapidly growing city while preserving our beautiful desert environment.

As the Mayor of Coachella, I am very excited for the residents of our city, our “next door” neighbors in Indio – whose land comprises part of the project area – and the rest of the Coachella Valley that a new state-of-the-art bridge will be built over a section of Union Pacific Railroad tracks during the next year.

Building a bridge may sound less exciting than I’m making it out to be, but it really is significant for the location because it will provide a much safer path of travel for motorists and pedestrians to cross the railroad tracks plus provide access for emergency equipment to businesses and residents in the expansive northeastern portion of Coachella. The bridge is especially important because of continually increasing goods movement coming through the desert by rail from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach – two of the most active cargo ports in the world. However, this bridge is about more than just an easy route to work or the store; it’s also about reducing the air pollution generated by thousands of idling cars and trucks that must wait at the site in a given week for trains to pass by.

The fact that our City Council was able to work with the city of Indio and several outside agencies to gain such substantial funding commitments makes me very proud of our entire group of elected officials and staff members. Working together we were able to secure grants from the California Department of Transportation; the federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality Improvement Program; Riverside County Transportation Commission; Union Pacific Railroad and the Coachella Valley Association of Governments.

The outside funding that has been rallied for the new bridge is really a testament to our funding partners for having the wisdom to put their dollars behind a project that will have multiple positive impacts by easing traffic congestion, reducing air pollution and eliminating accidents between cars and trains (which happen more than you probably think) at a very important location in the rapidly growing eastern Coachella Valley. I am especially grateful to the Coachella Valley Association of Governments which approved allocating approximately $2.9 million in Measure A funds to help us get to the funding finish line so we can move forward now. We simply could not have gone forward with this project without CVAG’s commitment. As CVAG Executive Director, John Wolmuth, has stated, “It’s better for us to do the Dillon Road grade separation project with today’s dollars than let it go and try again to rally the substantial dollars that the city of Coachella was able to secure.” I could not say it better than that.

I can’t wait until the new bridge is built and open for motorists throughout the region to utilize. In the meantime, I invite you to visit Coachella and see what’s going on here as we have been transforming the city into a great place to live, work and play.