After two years of construction on a four-lane roadway underpass and railroad bridge, the $97.4-Million Puente Avenue Grade Separation project officially opened to traffic on April 6.

Located in City of Industry and Avocado Heights, about 20 miles east of Los Angeles, the project involved separating the roadway and the railroad tracks on Puente Avenue at Valley Boulevard in the City of Industry and unincorporated area of Los Angeles County. Crews constructed a roadway underpass on Puente Avenue with bridges for Valley Boulevard and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks and a loop connector road.

Officials say the upgrades eliminate the potential for train and vehicle collisions and emergency responder delays at a previously at-grade railroad crossing where five serious collisions, including one fatality, were recorded over a recent ten year period.

Set along the transcontinental Alameda Corridor-East (ACE) Trade Corridor, the Puente Avenue Grade Separation is used daily by 20 freight trains – a number that is projected to increase to 42 trains by 2025. Now that its complete, the underpass is estimated to carry more than 31,000 vehicles a day, as well as reduce emissions and locomotive horn and crossing gate noise.

To get the job done, 545 construction crew members used more than two million pounds of steel, poured nearly 40,000 cu-yds of concrete and excavated nearly 135,000 cu-yds of dirt, enough to fill 10,000 truckloads.

The general contractor on the project was Manhattan-based OHL USA, Inc., which was awarded the contract in July 2014. The Alameda Corridor-East Construction Authority (ACE) is the agency in charge of the work.  

ACE was established in 1998 by the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments (SGVCOG) to implement a construction program intended to mitigate the vehicle delays and collisions at rail-roadway crossings resulting from growing freight rail traffic in San Gabriel Valley. The rail lines through the ACE Trade Corridor in Southern California carry 16 percent of all oceangoing containers in the United States and have been designated by Congress as a Project of National and Regional Significance.

With trade volumes through the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach projected to grow, train counts through the Valley are expected to increase by 150 percent by 2042, resulting in additional adverse crossing impacts, say project officials.

The Puente Avenue Grade Separation is part of the larger, $1.6 billion Alameda Corridor-East Construction project. This is a comprehensive program of constructing grade separations, where the road goes over or under the railroad, at 19 crossings (resulting in the elimination of 23 at-grade crossings) and safety and mobility upgrades at 53 crossings. Construction has been completed on nine rail-roadway grade separations. Seven grade separations are under construction with another three grade separations and eight crossing safety projects in the design phase. Jump Start safety improvements have been completed at 40 at-grade crossings.

The Puente Avenue project marks the tenth ACE grade separation completed in the San Gabriel Valley. The project was funded by state transportation bonds, Los Angeles County Metro funds provided from Proposition C and Measure R local sales taxes, and contributions from Union Pacific Railroad.