Saturday, October 22, 2016

Feds To Pick Up $1.66M Of $1.88M Cost To Replace Old Hwy 66 Amboy Bridge

The Dola Ditch and Lanzit Ditch bridges on old Route 66 near Amboy are two of 127 historic timber-trestle bridges to be replaced by San Bernardino County. (Google)

San Bernardino County Sentinel

The San Bernardino County Public Works Department will defray 88.5 percent of the cost of replacing the Lanzit Ditch Bridge on old Route 66 in the Amboy area with federal funds.

This week, the county board of supervisors complied with county public works director Gerry Newcombe’s recommendation that the county apply $1,663,645 in federal Highway Bridge Program funds administered through the State of California Department of Transportation and then utilize local matching funds, in this case $215,544 in gasoline taxes, for the construction phase of the National Trails Highway renovation project at Lanzit Ditch near Amboy where a long-existing bridge is on the brink of failure.

This defined project is one of several the county is undertaking along what was historically the primary roadway into California, U.S. Route 66, which in the 1920s was converted from the National Trails Highway. Route 66 was officially removed from the United States Highway System in 1985 but remains a far lesser used alternative route to Interstates 10 & 15 & 40.

According to Newcombe, “The Lanzit Ditch Bridge is located in San Bernardino County, approximately 2.77 miles east of Kelbaker Road near the unincorporated community of Amboy. This project is one of several ongoing efforts to replace bridges on National Trails Highway that have exceeded their design lifespan. This item meets the county and chief executive officer’s goals by working with Caltrans to ensure that the necessary agreements are processed in accordance with Caltrans guidelines in order to receive federal funds as reimbursement for project costs.”

Newcombe said “Discretionary general funding has been authorized to prepare plans to address all of the 127 bridges in priority groups as part of the county’s ongoing efforts to rehabilitate or replace 1930s era timber trestle bridges on National Trails Highway. This project began prior to the discretionary general funding availability and the department has budgeted gasoline tax funds as the local match for this project, so no portion of the authorized discretionary general funding will be used at this time on the project. Those funds remain authorized to be used toward future costs associated with the 127 bridges along National Trails Highway. Receiving $1,663,645 of Highway Bridge Program funds will assist in funding the project’s construction costs.”

Friday, October 7, 2016

Women's contributions on Route 66 remembered

Katrina Parks, project director for the Women on Route 66 project, listens in as Chris Ervin speaks during the panel at the end of the special presentation. Ervin is with the Mojave Desert Archives. The presentation focused on oral histories about women’s experiences on Route 66.

Needles Desert Star

NEEDLES — Those interested in a bit of a history lesson heard some interesting tales from various women who knew what it was like to travel and live along the Mother Road.

The presentation of “The Women on the Mother Road in Southern California: Route 66 Oral Histories and Screening and Discussion Program” focused on learning how women played major roles in life on the historic roadway. While Needles wasn’t directly discussed, Andrea Arizaga Limon, who has many local ties, is one of several women Katrina Parks interviewed and is part of the project. Her story was included in the presentation at the El Garces on Sept. 23.

Parks, project director, used a couple of quotes to explain why she focused her project on women. The quotes discussed how history tends to focus on men such as Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady motoring along Route 66; but women also did a lot to contribute to the stories.

Parks said women are frequently sidebars in historical works. When researching, there are unconscious biases and the tendency is to look up information on men instead of women and so certain assumptions are made, she continued.

While it may appear that women didn’t own property or were adventurers or contribute much, Parks said, when someone digs in, the experience by women is more complex and varied than led to believe.

Parks discussed some of the women she’s talked to or has researched about for her project. She pointed out how some of the women experienced various hardships such as discrimination for being women. Some faced racial discrimination and segregation, abuses and despite obstacles saw many successes as business women, entertainers and more.

Some of the presentation included Parks’ work with other individuals also working on similar projects and how it connected to her own. Parks’ part of the presentation included three of her finished interviews, including Arizaga Limon’s, for the audience to hear.

Chris Ervin, of Mojave Desert Archives, shared some human interest stories focused on a particular woman who lived in Ludlow. Her name was Venus Pendergast.

Many of the stories shared by Ervin and Parks brought some laughter and insight to an era gone by. While some of the stories are better known, such as Bobby Troup’s “Get Your Kicks on Route 66,” the fact his first wife, Cynthia, was the one who came up with that particular line is not as well known.

Parks provided thanks to those who’ve supported her project and to Jan Jernigan, of the Needles Downtown Business Alliance, for helping making the local presentation happen.

A panel at the end allowed members of the audience to talk about their own experiences and what life in Needles, in particular, has been like through the decades.