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Overpass finally open

Overpass finally open

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After a mini-parade and barbecue on the Fourth Street bridge, the overpass is open to vehicles.

More than 500 people braved the heat and long lines for hamburgers and hot dogs on Monday afternoon to check out Flagstaff's newest landmark, The Fourth Street Railroad Crossing.

As trains roared below the mid-town grade-separated crossing, the city celebrated the long-awaited bridge with free food, live music and a mini-parade featuring several classic cars slowly driving over the new bridge before it was opened to traffic later that afternoon.

While the Fourth Street bridge took more than six years to build and cost the city $36.7 million, it is expected to relieve traffic congestion at Route 66 and Enterprise Road as well as improve access between the Eastside and Continental.

The Fourth Street Railroad Crossing was one several transportation bonds approved by voters in 2000, part of a proposed $121 million plan to ease traffic congestion and promote alternative modes of transit.

Voters voted down portions of the plan, including the proposed Tank Farm Overpass, which sought to connect East Route 66 and Bulter Avenue west of Switzer Canyon Drive.

Despite a major setback, the Fourth Street bridge was built within the time frame officials had promised.

City officials had earlier hoped for a December 2005 opening, but had to delay the event after a title dispute with several landowners emerged. The city would eventually spend $275,000 to get clear titles to the four parcels it needed to complete the overpass.

City officials expect about $6 million in revenue from the sales of property the city purchased during the development of the project, primarily along East Route 66.

The Fourth Street Crossing cuts the six-mile gap between the city's two existing grade-separated crossings, Milton Road on the west and Country Club Drive on the east.

After giving his thanks to city staff and the contractors, Mayor Joe Donaldson turned his attention to the crowd, saying their support was essential.

"You gave us your trust, you gave us your patience, and you gave us the financial resources to make this happen. Without you we would not be having a barbecue on the bridge," said Donaldson.

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