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By Randy Economy
With trains lumbering in the background, officials from La Mirada and Santa Fe Springs officially broke ground on a new $65 Million street and rail improvement project that will forever eliminate traffic at the heavily travelled intersection of Valley View Avenue and the BNSF main line track.
The area is directly on the border of both cities and on Tuesday [June 19], city council members, state transportation officials and representatives from federal and state elected officials took ceremonial gold shovels and broke ground on the project that has been at least 10 years to develop.
“The grade separation project will finally end traffic gridlock,” said Santa Fe Springs City Councilman Joseph Serrano.
The project was championed, coordinated and funded by both city governments, the California Department of Transportation, BNSF Railway, AMTRAK and US Department of Transportation.
La Mirada Mayor Gabe Garcia quipped that residents of both La Mirada and Santa Fe Springs“ will have a lot more time on their hands since they won’t be stopped every five minutes for a train to go by.”
The project is part of a $163 Million, 15-mile track extension that will go from Commerce in east Los Angeles over to Fullerton in Orange County.
“Santa Fe Springs is fortunate to be able to move forward with the Valley View Avenue grade separation project,” Serrano said. “This important project will not only facilitate better and safer traffic circulation, but will also help revitalize the local economy,” he said.
“This grade separation project represents a significant transportation improvement for the cities of Santa Fe Springs and La Mirada,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “The project will also improve the movement of intercity passenger and freight rail.”
Instrumental in the coordination of the project is Don Jensen, Director of Public Works for Santa Fe Springs, and Steve Forster, Director of Public Works in La Mirada. Both Jensen and Forster were praised for their efforts during the ceremony.
Once completed, three train tracks will comprise the “Triple Track Project” and will be able to create potential for expanded passenger and commuter rail service through the Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Luis Obispo Rail Corridor.
Participating in the ceremony was Michael Miles, Caltrans District 7 Director. Miles said that Caltrans will “continue to be here for the entire community and this project will help save lives since vehicles will never cross a track again here on Valley View.”
Miles also said that the project will also increase the ability of the rail corridor to accommodate planned increases in the volume of freight and passenger rail services. “As you can tell by the trains that are travelling behind me, more than 130 trains go pass Valley View Avenue every single day. This project will change lives, forever,” he said.
Perla Hernandez, Deputy District Director for Congresswoman Grace Napolitano said that “in addition to improving safety and reducing noise, completion of the grade separation will improve local traffic circulation.”
Hernandez also pointed out that Caltrans was recently awarded an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Grant from the Federal Railroad Administration that “fully funded this segment.”
Also participating were staff representatives from California State Senator Ronald Calderon and US Congresswoman Linda T. Sanchez. The project will be completed by Fall 2014.
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