Alameda Corridor-East Construction Authority
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By Steve Scauzillo

San Gabriel Valley Tribune

January 24, 2015

Underpass, railroad bridge completed at Baldwin Avenue in El Monte

An El Monte trolley bus breaks through a banner Friday signaling the completion of the Baldwin Avenue railroad underpass in El Monte. The ACE project cost $76.7 million. The underpass and railroad bridge will open next month. Courtesy Photo — Alameda Corridor-East Construction Authority

EL MONTE >> After nearly two years of road closures, detours, dust and noise, the $76.7 million railroad underpass and bridge separating Baldwin Avenue from the train tracks was completed on Friday.

The Alameda Corridor-East Construction Authority marked the milestone with a ceremony Friday at the site, north of Valley Boulevard between Gidley and Rose streets.

"We appreciate the patience and support of the community as the Baldwin Avenue project was under construction," said El Monte Councilwoman Norma Macias, chair of the ACE Construction Authority Board of Directors.

The project, 12 years in the planning stages, actually was completed several months ahead of schedule. The road was closed to all traffic in May 2013 and was supposed to reopen in 24 months. Engineers with the Construction Authority said Friday the four-lane roadway underpass and a two-track railroad bridge will open to vehicles and freight trains next month.

Workers used 1 million pounds of reinforced steel, poured 12,000 cubic yards of concrete and dug out 93,000 cubic yards of dirt - enough to fill 11,6000 dump trucks. It took about 446 construction workers to complete the job.

Groundbreaking began in late January 2013.

The railroad bridge - about 40 feet above the recessed Baldwin Avenue - will be used by 18 freight trains daily. As shipments increase at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles and more trains carry freight up the 19-mile Alameda Corridor and eastward across the San Gabriel Valley and into the heartland, the number of freight trains crossing the intersection is projected to increase to 40 by 2025. The Union Pacific tracks are also used by about six passenger trains from Amtrak daily, Ricky Choi, ACE communications manager, told this newspaper in a story published last year.

The roadway underpass will accommodate 28,000 vehicles a day.

"This project will eliminate crossing collisions and train horn noise and reduce vehicle congestion," Macias said. At the intersection over the past 10 years, there have been two train-versus-vehicle accidents.

Before the first shovelful of dirt, ACE had to relocate between 30 and 40 businesses, including a noodle factory which moved to South El Monte, and residents from an apartment building that was bought and razed. ACE had to go to court for an eminent domain hearing in order to buy the Mipco property, ACE officials said in January 2013.