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San Gabriel Valley Tribune
February 23, 2006

Improving Train Traffic a Priority, Says Expert
ACE official urges action on crossings
By Rodney Tanaka Staff Writer

BALDWIN PARK - The San Gabriel Valley faces a 160 percent growth in train traffic by 2020.

Sharon Neely, director of transportation policy for the Alameda Corridor-East Construction Authority, talked about addressing this issue at a San Gabriel Valley Public Affairs Network luncheon Wednesday in Baldwin Park.

ACE completed its first grade separation at Nogales Street in West Covina at a cost of $49 million. But the $950 million ACE project needs additional funding for 10 other grade separations.

There is no state or federal funding source for improving goods movement, Neely said, so San Gabriel Valley cities began addressing the problem on their own.

RAIL GROWTH: Sharon Neely, ACE transportation director, says rail traffic in the Valley could more than double, and cities need to address problems. (Raul Roa/Staff Photo)

"We have to mitigate the increased flow of goods through our region," Neely said.

ACE is making improvements to 39 crossings with improved signs, traffic signal modifications and medians to prevent people from driving around railroad gates.

Each day, 70 to 90 trains pass through the San Gabriel Valley, and that could increase to 160 per day as growth continues, Neely said. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger formed a work group to study goods movement, and the group is scheduled to meet Friday in Los Angeles.

Neely asked luncheon guests to write to the governor in support of ACE's inclusion in the work group's short-term and intermediate-term action plan. But some believe more could be done.

"We are still building systems for the 20th century," said Mary Dougherty, community representative for the Arcadia Chamber of Commerce. "We need to be building systems for the 21st century."

The region should have grade separations at all rail intersections, she said.

"We're paying for not having grade-level separation," Dougherty said. "We pay for it in terms of signage, bells, whistles, horn blowing, lost sleep and idling engines."