Traffic detours are rarely fun. But they can be interesting, especially when caused by big, exciting projects like the $336.9 million San Gabriel Trench, which I encountered this week on a cross town errand. Currently under construction in the city of San Gabriel, about 10 miles east of Downtown Los Angeles, this grade separation consists of lowering a 1.4-mile-long section of Union Pacific railroad track into a trench through the city, with four bridges spanning major intersections constructed to allow vehicles and pedestrians to pass over the tracks.

The 2.2-mi-long project is being led by Jacobs Engineering of Pasadena, CA, as construction manager; and Chicago, IL-based Walsh Construction as general contractor.

“Our contractor is making significant progress with one of the four overhead bridge structures completed and one to be completed shortly," says Mark Christoffels, CEO of the Alameda Corridor-East Construction Authority (ACE), the entity in charge of the project. "The remaining two bridge structures will be completed by the end of the year, allowing the contractor to begin fully excavating the trench." 

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The project, awarded in July 2012, is about 35 percent finished, and is on target for a September 2017 completion. Crews are currently excavating the trench, relocating sewer lines and preparing to erect the two remaining bridges. One of these structures is at Del Mar Avenue, the section I drove past.

ACE says the project is creating 6,057 full-time equivalent jobs, and will reduce locomotive horn and crossing bell noise, and eliminate an estimated 1,744 hours of vehicle delay each day at four crossings, the busiest of which, San Gabriel Blvd., carries 35,310 vehicles per day and operates at 118% of capacity in peak hours.

Besides the trench ACE also has three other major projects underway in the San Gabriel Valley: The Nogales Street Grade Separation; the  Puente Avenue Grade Separation; and the Fairway Drive Grade Separation.

The $118 million Nogales Street Grade Separation, located in the City of Industry, is constructing a six-lane roadway underpass and double-track railway bridge, and widening two busy streets in each direction. The project broke ground in May 2013 and will complete in 2016. Brea, CA-baed Griffith Company is serving as general contractor.

The $98.1 million Puente Avenue Grade Separation, awarded in July 2014, is being led by Manhattan-based OHL USA, Inc. as general contractor, and will be complete in 2017. This job will separate the roadway and the railroad tracks on Puente Avenue at Valley Boulevard in the City of Industry. Plans call for constructing a roadway underpass on Puente Avenue with bridges for Valley Boulevard and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. There will also be a loop connector road west of Puente Avenue and south of Valley Boulevard.

Scheduled for completion in 2018, the $141.8 million Fairway Drive grade separation project broke ground last month, with OHL USA, Inc. leading construction. The project will lower Fairway Drive under two existing Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) and Metrolink tracks in the City of Industry, immediately north of the 60 Freeway. Plans call for constructing a four-lane roadway underpass and a new four-track railroad bridge.