Alameda Corridor Freight Rail Expressway Opens On Time And On Budget; More Than 1,000 Attend Ceremony

Alameda Corridor Freight Rail Expressway Opens On Time and On Budget; More Than 1,000 Attend Ceremony

APRIL 12, 2002

LOS 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 Century.”

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 30-40 mph.

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 million.
  • The repaving of Alameda Street and other improvements to improve traffic flow, including new turn lanes, curbs and gutters and synchronization of traffic signals.
  • Extensive landscaping and other beautification work along Alameda Street, including thousands of new trees, decorative lighting and paving and public plazas.

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 California.

Construction 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.