Fresno Mayor Lee Brand rides shotgun in the lead classic hot rod for the first trip over the new Tuolumne Street Bridge in Fresno Friday morning.
Written by Gabriel Dillard
A crowd of more than a hundred people gathered in Downtown Fresno on a muggy Friday morning to witness history — the reopening of the Tuolumne Street Bridge.
The one-way bridge, which was demolished in January 2016, was rebuilt for two-way traffic and its height increased to accommodate the state high-speed rail project as well as the Union Pacific rail line below.
Special guest speakers included Fresnan Tom Richards, vice chair of the California High-Speed Rail Authority board, Fresno Mayor Lee Brand, Fresno City Councilmember Esmeralda Solis and Thomas Fellenz, interim CEO of the California High-Speed Rail Authority.
The project was also hailed as a historic benchmark for high-speed rail, as it was the first major piece of infrastructure completed for the project. It is also the first of 55 grade separations that will be completed in Fresno as part of the sweeping project.
Richards said the bridge was an important conduit to connect Fresno’s Chinatown and southwest area with the rest of the city. It is also important for the Valley, connecting the region with the state’s power centers in the north (Bay Area) and south (Southern California), he said.
“It’s going to change the way we do and see our lives,” Richards said.
Brand said the high-speed rail project will generate $500 million in investment in the city, as well as employ thousands of workers.
At the close of the remarks, there was a ribbon cutting as well as procession over the bridge with dignitaries riding in classic hot rods over the bridge escorted by vehicles from the California Highway Patrol, Fresno Police Department and Fresno Fire Department.