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Rail News: Maintenance Of Way
Colton Crossing grade separation completed earlier, cheaper than expected

The Colton Crossing grade separation in Colton, Calif., has been completed ahead of schedule and under budget, California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG) officials announced yesterday.

Estimated to cost $202 million and scheduled to open in 2014, the project wrapped up eight months ahead of schedule and cost $93 million primarily because of innovative construction methods and a competitive marketplace that resulted in lower-than-expected bids, they said in a press release.

Built in 1883, the Colton Crossing — where major BNSF Railway Co. and Union Pacific Railroad lines cross — is a vital intersection for virtually all trains entering or leaving southern California. The crossing is used by about 135 BNSF, UP, Amtrak and Metrolink trains daily, often causing congestion at the busy juncture as freight or commuter trains waited for one another to pass.

The project involved the construction of a 1.4-mile-long overpass to remove the chokepoint and elevate two UP east-west tracks above the BNSF north-south line.

"The need to separate this historical crossing was crucial not only to California's economy, but to the nation's as well," Caltrans and SANBAG officials said. "Nearly half of all U.S. imports flow through California ports and travel by trucks and trains across the state to the rest of the nation. The amount of cargo handled at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach is expected to more than double by 2020."

The project was completed via a partnership between Caltrans, SANBAG, the city of Colton, BNSF and UP. Funding was provided by state and federal sources, including $34 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and $41 million from California's Proposition 1B, a 2006 voter-approved transportation bond.

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