By Scott Graham, Omnitrans Interim CEO/Manager
For people driving through the future Omnitrans sbX E Street Corridor Bus Rapid Transit line in San Bernardino and Loma Linda, it is clear that construction continues to take place on a large scale.
Each day, about 100 workers can be seen in concentrated areas along the 15.7-mile route. From concrete to iron to electrical workers, there are numerous tasks being performed daily to keep the project moving forward for the start of service in April 2014.
When complete, the sbX line will provide express service along one of the busiest bus corridors in the Omnitrans system, which serves about 4,000 daily riders. It will give the commuting public a time-efficient and cost-effective option to get to major work, education, medical, retail and restaurant centers.
But for many in the community, the big question is, “How much longer will construction take and what will the roadway look like in the end?” Most of the construction activities that are impacting E Street and Hospitality Lane in San Bernardino are estimated for completion in the fall of this year.
In the coming months, construction crews will work on reinforcing the center-running lane area from Court Street to 10th Street along E Street and on Hospitality Lane in select areas between Carnegie Drive and Tippecanoe Avenue. This is similar to work already completed on E Street from Rialto Avenue to Hospitality Lane.
However, there is one major difference. On the corridor where the street has been widened, crews will add a top layer of asphalt that will create a smooth driving surface from curb to curb. The uneven road conditions that the public has raised concerns about will be fixed.
Additionally, residents can be assured that roadway intersection work such as that at the Marshall Avenue and E Street park-and-ride location will also include a new and seamless layer of asphalt. And at sbX side-boarding stations along Kendall Avenue and on E Street, new asphalt will be added to smooth the roadway.
All construction work will continue to be inspected by the cities of San Bernardino and Loma Linda. This will assure quality of work and conformity to highway and Federal Transit Administration standards.
While there is much work in the coming months, there are areas in San Bernardino and Loma Linda that are nearing completion. In fact, the overall project is approximately 80 percent complete.
For example, the California State University, San Bernardino sbX station will be the first to have all elements installed. Recently, electrical components were energized and tested. In Loma Linda, work has focused on the sbX stations where a final layer of asphalt has already been placed at most stations providing a smooth drive through the area.
As we enter the final months of construction, we would like to remind the public that your input helps us address issues that are of concern.
Recently, a local dentist off of Hospitality Lane expressed frustration about motorists not being able to make a left turn on a street because of a new median. Some motorists trying to get around this median created a safety issue as there was not a convenient place where a legal u-turn could be made.
After reviewing the situation, we discussed the issue with the city and came up with a solution. A legal u-turn was added on Hospitality Lane in the eastbound direction at Waterman Avenue. This change took place because of the phone call made by a concerned citizen.
So if you have a concern or question about the project, please call the project helpline. You might be surprised to learn that it is not an answering machine, but rather a cell phone manned by a project team member that will answer the phone 24-hours a day, seven days a week. And if for some reason we are unable to pick up the phone, we will return your call at our earliest opportunity. The helpline is (855) sbX-NEWS / 729-6397.
As with any major project, there are challenges and impacts during construction. We are committed to mitigating issues the best we can and to deliver the project on time and on budget. We value your concerns and are optimistic that the new sbX BRT service will provide positive benefits over time in the cities we serve.
Scott Graham was appointed Interim CEO/General Manager in June 2013. He originally joined Omnitrans in 2006 as Director of Operations, overseeing a department of more than 400 employees responsible for delivering fixed route bus service to the San Bernardino Valley each day.
Founded in 1976, Omnitrans is the public transit agency providing over 50,000 passenger trips each weekday across the San Bernardino Valley. Omnitrans is governed by a 20-member board representing the 15 cities served by Omnitrans and San Bernardino County. www.omnitrans.org
The sbX BRT Project is the first-of-its kind express service to be constructed in the Inland Empire. The 15.7-mile corridor spans between northern San Bernardino and Loma Linda. It will include 16 art-inspired stations at key university, government, business, entertainment and medical centers as well as four park-and-ride facilities. www.omnitrans-sbx.com