San Bernardino Associated Governments hosts festival on 210 freeway before it opens
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11:02 AM PDT on Sunday, June 24, 2007
As traffic jams go, this was one of a kind.
No bumper-to-bumper, no exhaust haze, no white-knuckled drivers, no blaring horns.
Just a leisurely crowd milling around vintage cars and rows of brightly colored fair pavilions.
And, at one edge of the throng, a knot of government officials, many in shorts or khakis, with a bright red ribbon and an oversized pair of scissors.
The occasion was "Come Play on the Freeway: the Finale," a festival sponsored by the San Bernardino Associated Governments on Saturday to celebrate the pending completion of Interstate 210 in Rialto and San Bernardino.
SANBAG spokeswoman Cheryl Donahue estimated the crowd at about 20,000.
"I thought it was important to be here," said Delores King, of Fontana, pausing as she strolled down the No. 1 lane just west of the State Street offramp.
A few feet away, King's 5-week-old granddaughter, Jaelnn Dixon, snoozed in a frilly pink stroller.
Caltrans spokeswoman Rose Melgoza said officials hope to open the roadway in September, just in time for King's fall semester at Valley College, where she is studying nursing.
King said being able to drive the 210 will cut her commuting time in half.
"I can't wait to use this freeway," she said. "Someday, I'll remind Jaelnn that she was here today."
Completion of what is known as the Foothill Freeway comes 10 years after SANBAG broke ground. The first six miles of the route, from Rancho Cucamonga to Fontana, opened in 2001.
Another segment, 14 miles between La Verne and Rancho Cucamonga, was added a year later.
In 2005, a two-mile stretch from Fontana to Rialto opened, leaving only the section between Rialto and San Bernardino.
The completed freeway will span 28.2 miles from La Verne to San Bernardino, where it will connect to Highway 30. Highway 30 will become part of the 210, completing the connection to Interstate 10 in Redlands.
Speaking at Saturday's ribbon-cutting ceremony, San Bernardino City Councilman Rikke Van Johnson predicted that the freeway will help loosen the economic chokehold imposed on his Westside ward by Interstate 215.
That freeway, completed in 1959, split San Bernardino from north to south. Its offramps were built to direct traffic to the east, away from the Westside and toward downtown San Bernardino.
"We've waited a lifetime for this freeway to right some wrongs that were done with the 215," Johnson said.
He predicted that the State Street offramp, the first freeway access to his ward in almost 50 years, will bring a surge in development.
To highlight the transformation, San Bernardino Mayor Pat Morris showed off an artist's renderings of historic scenes that will be included in a mural on a Union Pacific bridge spanning the roadway.
He said muralist Edward Perez and a work crew were up until 2 a.m. Saturday, laying down primer over the graffiti that had scarred the bridge.
Perez and students from five San Bernardino high schools will paint the mural within the next five weeks, Morris said.
Reach Chris Richard at 909-806-3076 or crichard@PE.com
BS Ranch Perspective
I feel that the "Festival" was nice, and there was a great turn out, however I hope that they understand that the people of the festival and myself are expecting that the Freeway is within a week from opening. I do not believe that the people that put this 'Festival' on are not and do not have any clue as to when the freeway will open, however I hope that it opens soon, the traffic by my house and the people that live off Riverside between Cactus and Riverside on Easton Ave know that there are a whole lot of cars that speed by there once peaceful street! Riverside Ave used to be at least 36% quieter then what it is now, with all the added Detoured traffic. It sucks. I cannot wait for the new Freeway to open. I bet that the Traffic on Riverside Ave will drop over 50%!!