ANGELES COUNTY, CALIF. –After
more than two decades of planning and five years of construction, the $2.4
billion Alameda Corridor freight rail expressway opened Friday on time and on
budget, speeding the flow of cargo to and from the nation's two busiest ports,
providing a model for public-private partnerships and delivering benefits to the
nation, state and region.
Joined by top transportation and elected officials from
across the country, project executives simultaneously pulled levers that gave a
green light for the first freight train to run on the Alameda Corridor.
More than 1,000 people attended a grand opening ceremony at a Los Angeles
rail yard adjacent to the Alameda Corridor.
Among them were U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta;
California Governor Gray Davis; Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn and Long Beach
Mayor Beverly O'Neill.
"By more efficiently linking the ports on the San
Pedro Bay with the transcontinental rail network, the Alameda Corridor will
greatly enhance American trade with the Pacific Rim, strengthening both the
regional and national economies," Secretary Mineta said. "Its successful completion demonstrates what we can
accomplish with innovative financing and public-private cooperation, and it
provides a powerful paradigm for the kinds of intermodal infrastructure
investment we want to encourage as we begin working with the Congress to develop
legislation reauthorizing America's surface transportation programs."
"This impressive project brings together the public
and private sectors for the first consolidated rail link of its kind,"
Governor Davis said. "Speeding
the movement of freight to and from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach will
significantly help two of the world's busiest ports keep pace with future
expansion and keep California's economy on the fast track in the 21st
The Alameda Corridor is a series of bridges, underpasses,
overpasses and street improvements that separate freight rail, passenger rail
and street traffic. By consolidating four railroad branch lines serving the
ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the Alameda Corridor eliminates more than
200 at-grade crossings where rail and street traffic conflict, thereby easing
traffic congestion and significantly reducing air and noise pollution from
idling trains, trucks and cars. The
project stretches through eight cities along a 20-mile route.
The centerpiece is the Mid-Corridor Trench, a below-ground trainway
running parallel to Alameda Street for 10 miles.
The Alameda Corridor was built by the Alameda Corridor
Transportation Authority (ACTA), a joint powers authority governed by the cities
of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and the
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
When operations begin April 15, the Alameda Corridor will be operated by
a unique partnership between the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Burlington
Northern and Santa Fe Railway and Union Pacific Railroad.
"The Alameda Corridor is a model of good government
because it brought together multiple government agencies and the private sector
in cooperation to deliver a project that benefits not only the parties involved
but also the entire country, the state and the region as well as individual
communities and residents," said ACTA Governing Board Chairman Frank
Colonna, a member of the Long Beach City Council.
"The Alameda Corridor demonstrates that we don't have
to sacrifice quality of life to enjoy the economic benefits of port expansion
and international trade," said ACTA Governing Board Vice Chairwoman Janice
Hahn, a member of the Los Angeles City Council.
The adjacent ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are the
two busiest seaports in the nation, handling more than $200 billion in cargo in
2001. Approximately half of the
cargo – including everyday consumer
products such as electronics, apparel and shoes –
is transported by train outside of Southern California to destinations across
the country. The volume of cargo
containers handled by the ports doubled in the 1990s to approximately 8 million
units. Those volumes continue to
increase, and the ports project more than 24 million units by 2020.
Today, there are 20-35 daily train trips on the branch
lines serving the ports, with trains averaging 10-20 mph. The Alameda Corridor is designed to accommodate the 100 daily
train trips to and from the ports projected for 2020, with trains averaging
By providing a more efficient way to transport cargo, the
Alameda Corridor delivers significant economic benefits to the nation, state and
region. Leaving a legacy beyond construction of a public works project, the
Alameda Corridor also provided direct benefits to local communities and
residents. Among them were:
Construction industry-specific job training for 1,281 local
residents, including 637 placed in union apprenticeships.
On-the-job training and education credits for more than 420 young
adults who performed multiple community beautification projects through the
Alameda Corridor Conservation Corps program.
Aggressive outreach and technical assistance for disadvantaged
businesses, which earned Alameda Corridor contracts worth more than $285
The repaving of Alameda Street and other improvements to improve
traffic flow, including new turn lanes, curbs and gutters and synchronization of
Extensive landscaping and other beautification work along Alameda
Street, including thousands of new trees, decorative lighting and paving and
The Alameda Corridor was funded through a unique blend of
public and private sources, including $1.16 billion in revenue bonds sold by
ACTA, a $400 million loan from the U.S. Department of Transportation, $394
million from the ports and $347 million in grants administered by the Los
Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Bond debt service will be paid with fees collected from the
railroads for the transportation of cargo containers outside of Southern
began in 1997, and ground was broken on the Mid-Corridor Trench in December
1998. Alameda Corridor officials
credited extensive multi-jurisdictional cooperation and coordination with
keeping the complex project on schedule and under budget.
PHIL HAMPTON, Alameda Corridor Transportation
Authority, (562) 435-5551