Trains have started rolling on the new 1.4-mi-long San Gabriel Trench in the city of San Gabriel, about 10 miles east of Los Angeles. Located on the transcontinental Alameda Corridor-East Trade Corridor, the project was designed to "eliminate crossing congestion, collisions and horn noise from trains carrying goods to and from the San Pedro ports," say project officials.

The $313 million project began construction in 2012 and final completion is scheduled for early 2018. The project received a $237.7 million construction allocation from the state Trade Corridors Improvement Fund (TCIF), placing it among the top three of 98 high-priority rail, port and roadway projects across California funded from the trade corridors program.

Led by the Alameda Corridor-East Construction Authority (ACE), the project team also includes Jacobs Engineering of Pasadena, CA, as construction manager; and Chicago, IL-based Walsh Construction as general contractor.

 ACE says the work 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.

The overall Trench construction consists of multiple projects including center median and crossing arm improvements, traffic signalization, and grade separation projects along two 35-mile freight rail mainline routes from downtown Los Angeles through the San Gabriel Valley to San Bernardino County. 

“The San Gabriel Trench is the largest project we have undertaken," said Juli Costanzo, Chair of the ACE Board of Directors, in a recent press release. "Opening it to rail traffic is the most significant project milestone and a cause for great celebration in the city of San Gabriel.”

For the 2.2-mi-long San Gabriel Trench grade separation project, a 1.4-mile section of Union Pacific railroad track was lowered in a 30 ft-deep by 65 ft-wide trench through San Gabriel, with four bridges constructed along the way, allowing vehicles and pedestrians to pass over the tracks.

The rail line returns to grade east of San Gabriel Boulevard, with the road being raised less than two feet due to track elevation.

Besides the trench, ACE is also working on the $141.8 million Fairway Drive grade separation project, which is scheduled for completion in 2018. This is being constructed by OHL USA, Inc. The project will lower a roadway under two existing Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) and Metrolink tracks in the City of Industry and build a four-lane roadway underpass and a new four-track railroad bridge.