Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Landmark trestle in need of face lift

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The steel railroad bridge crossing high above Alhambra Avenue in Martinez, Calif., is known to local train buffs as both the Muir Trestle and Alhambra Trestle. Owned and operated by BNSF, the trestle has long been a recognizable Martinez landmark, and lately a conversation has resurfaced among local denizens about the trestle's appearance, the Martinez News-Gazette reports. Splotched with large patches of rust in between its fading gray paint, the structure is in need of a face-lift.

"I look at it almost every day on my way to work, and it's an eyesore," said Mayor Rob Schroder. "We've tried to work with [BNSF] in the past to try to get them to paint it. They said they would be happy to help with safety, but just because it has a little rust [the company won't do it]."

Schroder explained that a few years ago, former California Assembly member Joe Canciamilla went so far as to introduce a bill to help fund the repainting of the trestle, but "it died going through committee," he said.

The Gazette contacted BNSF this week to inquire about any pending work planned for the trestle, and learned from spokesperson Lena Kent that although the structure is "maintained on a regular basis," BNSF has no plans to paint the bridge in the future, and that it had been "quite some time" since prior cosmetic work.

This is despite the company's earnings of $3.57 billion in the fourth quarter of 2009 alone, according BNSF Annual 2009 Investor's Report.

Kent was unable to provide the date of construction or the date of the trestle's last painting, and when asked the frequency of the trestle maintenance, estimated is was about "once a week."

"[Crews] inspect [the trestle] visually, and have equipment on top to test it seismically," Kent said. "We have track crossing 28 states and two Canadian providences, so we're not out painting for aesthetic reasons."

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