San Pedro Bay houses the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach - together the world's largest sea-land port. International trade moves through these ports to and from all parts of the nation. After docking, goods are transported by trucks if the distance is less than 500 miles, or by train for longer distances. Ninety percent of the port traffic to and from points outside the region crosses the Inland Empire. This freight traffic, already heavy, is projected to nearly triple in the next 20 years because of tremendous growth in international trade through the ports.
SANBAG has helped develop the Alameda Corridor East Trade Plan to address goods movement on a regional level. This plan will help San Bernardino County meet its needs related to mobility, air quality and safety.
About half of the cargo that reaches the harbors in the San Pedro Bay will continue its travel by rail. Under construction now is the Alameda Corridor, a 20-mile freight rail path from the ports to downtown L.A. Construction of the Alameda Corridor, a 20-mile freight rail path from the ports to downtown L.A., was completed in April 2002. The Alameda Corridor is a completely “grade separated” facility – at no point do train tracks and surface streets intersect. The separate corridor eliminates the need for rail crossings, thereby enhancing safety and efficiency. Another bonus is better air quality, because vehicles do not sit idling while waiting for trains.
Rail freight heads north up the Alameda Corridor to downtown Los Angeles. At that point, goods will be routed east along the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern/Santa Fe lines to Colton and San Bernardino. From there, freight branches off to the north and east via Cajon Pass and Barstow, or to the southeast via Banning Pass.
With increasing cargo volume in the ports and completion of the Alameda Corridor, rail traffic through San Bernardino County is projected to explode. Transportation planners predict that rail freight will grow 160 percent by 2020. Plans are underway for construction of the Alameda Corridor East, a 55-mile grade-separated facility that will follow Union Pacific lines from east L.A. to the Colton Crossing and the BNSF lines from L.A. to San Bernardino and Barstow via Riverside. This corridor is only partially funded at this time and likely will take more than a decade to complete. The corridor will connect the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to the transcontinental rail network, creating a faster, more efficient method of distributing the goods across the country.
Benefits of the Alameda Corridor East include:
- Improved safety and less delay time at 38 rail crossings countywide
- Elimination of 250 tons of air pollutants
- Better commercial and passenger vehicle access to airports, the BNSF intermodal yard, and distribution centers countywide
To prepare for the anticipated increase in traffic, SANBAG, its member cities and San Bernardino County are working together to improve rail crossings countywide. SANBAG has identified 38 grade crossings that will require either grade separations or safety upgrades. Of these 38 crossings, 27 are slated for grade separations, seven are scheduled for safety upgrades and four are set for further improvements to existing grade separations. SANBAG studied the time that drivers spend waiting at these rail crossings and chose five as the agency's immediate priorities. These top five were: Ramona Avenue in Montclair, Hunts Lane in San Bernardino/Colton, Milliken Avenue in Ontario, Monte Vista Avenue in Montclair, and State/University in San Bernardino. The remaining crossings are slated for improvements as more funds become available.
The Traffic Congestion Relief Program funded by AB 2928 provided $95 million to San Bernardino County to continue the improvements implemented during the past decade and to make safety upgrades along the corridor. An additional $6 million from Measure I - the county's half-cent transportation sales tax - has been allocated for grade separation design.