Caltrans Projects Funded by SB 1 to Relieve Freight Congestion

Traffic flows through the interchange of the 60 and 57 freeways in Diamond Bar on Wednesday, March 18, 2015. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda/ San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

The California Department of Transportation has outlined a series of projects to ease congestion along major CA freight corridors over the next 10 years. Caltrans has identified a list of 45 “pinch-points” to plan projects that will facilitate truck traffic on major corridors, including I-5, I-80, I-10 and State Route 60. These pinch-points are currently forcing oversized trucks onto sometimes long and costly detours that impact local communities.

Caltrans spokesman Matt Rocco said most of the projects were made possible through the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 (SB 1). The legislation devotes $54 billion for infrastructure improvements throughout the state.

“California has the sixth largest economy in the world. Freight movement plays a huge role, generating about one-third of California’s $2.2 trillion economy,” California Transportation Commission spokeswoman Amy MacPherson said. “Because freight plays such a major role in California’s economy and will continue to do so for decades, it is critical that we continue to fund infrastructure improvements to better facilitate goods movement across the state.”

The projects address segments of routes across the entire state. In the Sacramento area, a $247 million bridge project will improve truck carrying capacity on the I-5 South Connector Undercrossing.

And In Southern California, an $82.4 million bridge project will increase vertical truck clearance to facilitate freight movement along the I-10 and SR-60 in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. These routes carry local trucks and freight movers coming the nearby ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, but are prone to bottlenecks. “California’s interstates and highways carry 40% of the nation’s imports from the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles to the rest of the country,” Caltrans spokeswoman Erin Gallup von Tersch said. “That’s part of the reason we have so much truck traffic.”

California’s major ports have competitors in other states, notes California Transportation Agency Secretary Brian Annis. Focusing on the three main freight freeways that connect to coastal ports will give the state more bang for the buck, Annis said. “Investing in this type of infrastructure … gets goods efficiently to market. It is efficient for freight, but good for communities too, because you are keeping the trucks on those primary freight corridors.”

The projects addressing vertical clearance issues, which involve lowering roadways and raising overpasses, are to accommodate larger vehicles and aging infrastructure, said Gallup von Tersch. “Trucks are getting bigger, just like the ships are getting bigger, and much of our infrastructure was built half a century ago,” she said. “We need to allow for the larger trucks.”

Southern California Partnership for Jobs supports infrastructure investment. It enhances our overall quality of life and supports individuals’ employment and their families’ well-being. We advocated for the passage of SB 1, a new transportation funding source that is becoming ever more critical for California. We continue to work closely with other advocates to seek more funding at the state, regional and local levels.

Source: Various

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