Computer rendering of the completed bridge and underpass.
Computer rendering of the completed bridge and underpass on Nogales Street in east Los Angeles County.

As difficult as it is to believe, drivers in one part of Los Angeles County Friday celebrated victory in their battle against traffic jams in one of the busiest “choke points” in the area.

After more than two years of construction, a two- track railroad bridge and six-lane roadway underpass opened between Industry and Rowland Heights to alleviate what was once considered one of the biggest traffic choke points in eastern Los Angeles County.

County Supervisors Michael Antonovich, Don Knabe and Hilda Solis were among the dignitaries attending the opening ceremony, along with David Kim, deputy administrator of the Federal Highway Administration.

“The goal with this project is to ensure the safe and efficient travel of goods and people in Southern California,” Kim said. “We need more projects like this nationwide that balance the needs of local residents and the business community.”

The $118.2 million bridge, part of the transcontinental Alameda Corridor- East rail corridor, spans Nogales Street between Rowland Heights and Industry, a stretch of road that had been largely closed for construction since March 2014, except for a two-lane local-access detour route.

Funding for the project came from a state transportation bond, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the federal government, city of Industry and Union Pacific Railroad.

According to rail officials, the tracks are used by 49 trains daily, with that number expected to increase to 91 by 2025. Prior to the bridge project, passing trains forced a halt to traffic on Nogales Street, often leading to extensive delays and backing up motorists to the Pomona (60) Freeway, located just south of the bridge. More than 40,000 cars a day use the street.

In the decade before the project began in 2014, there were 10 collisions at the railway crossing, according to the ACE Construction Authority. The authority noted that by separating train and vehicle traffic, the project will also reduce the need for locomotive horn and crossing-gate noise.

According to the authority, the ACE Trade Corridor carries about 60 percent of the containers that arrive at the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex, which handles more than 40 percent of the nation’s containerized trade.

“With international trade flourishing and rail projects being advanced at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, local communities will see a steady increase in freight trains along the rail mainlines in Los Angeles County,” Solis said. “The ACE grade separations are integral to Los Angeles County’s strategy to enhance safety, reduce local congestion and improve  the efficiency of goods movement throughout the region.”

—City News Service

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