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Goods Movement

Arguably the movement of goods through and within the Inland Empire constitutes a greater impact on San Bernardino County's transportation system and air quality than any other factor. The impact of rail and truck traffic without the necessary resources to mitigate such impacts will increase freeway and major street congestion, degrade air quality, increase safety concerns, and increase maintenance needs of existing streets and freeways.

SBCTA and local governments in San Bernardino County are actively pursuing strategies to minimize the inevitable undesirable impacts of goods movement on the county.

  • Principles for Federal Funding Renewal

    Increased world trade and port activities are important to the well being of the United States. Some areas, such as the Inland Empire, bear a disproportionate share of the costs required to mitigate the impact of the movement of goods through their communities.  SBCTA has adopted a position that the federal government should recognize its responsibility to assist in compensating for the cost of these mitigation requirements.

    The SBCTA Board of Directors adopted seven principles to guide future federal transportation policy decisions:

    • Establish New Goods Movement Funding Program
      Establish a new funding initiative to provide resources to intermodal facilities and to mitigate the effects of goods movement along key goods movement corridors in the Southern California Association of Governments region. This initiative would provide financial support for specific corridors that move goods from production to distribution facilities. In addition to the gas tax, consideration should be given to funding goods movement mitigation from revenues related to increases in world trade, such as U.S. customs revenue and fees based on containers or tonnage.
    • Expand Definition of Alameda Corridor East
      The present federal definition or description of Alameda Corridor East does not include freeways and the two major rail-freight carrier's rail lines within San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. The following definition should be adopted: "The Alameda Corridor East is a west-east rail/highway corridor extending from east Los Angeles (terminus of Alameda Corridor) through the San Gabriel Valley in Los Angeles County, San Bernardino County, northern Orange County, and Riverside County and is utilized for the purpose of moving goods by rail and/or truck.
    • Funding of Goods Movement Facilities
      • Alameda Corridor East Grade Separation Funding: Rapid growth in port-related rail freight from Los Angeles through San Bernardino County to the rest of the nation necessitates construction of grade separations and other mitigations to avoid severe congestion and air quality impacts. Despite $95 million in AB 2928 funding for San Bernardino County grade separations, the unfunded need is estimated to be $427 million for 29 grade separations and other safety improvements in San Bernardino County, and $2.5 billion for the entire Alameda Corridor East.
      • Dedicated Truck Lane Funding: Twenty-year traffic forecasts indicate that several southern California freeways, including State Route 60 and Interstate 15 in San Bernardino County, will experience increases in truck volumes so great as to effectively consume the entire freeway capacity. Dedicated truck toll lanes are proposed in the Regional Transportation Plan to enable both truck and light duty traffic to continue to move. However, analyses indicate that more than half of the cost must be borne by public funding. Regionally, the public cost is likely to exceed $5 billion, of which at least $1.2 billion would be for truck lanes within San Bernardino County.
      • Interchange Reconstruction Funding: Population and commercial growth, particularly related to growth in regional distribution facilities that generate high truck volumes, has rendered many of the existing interchanges along Interstate 10, Interstate 15, and State Route 60 deficient, and has created a need for additional interchanges in recently urbanized areas with rural interchange spacing. A recently completed study of delay savings attributable to both interchanges and grade separations indicates that at least 16 interchanges in the county currently experience more delay than the most severe at-grade rail crossings. The total cost of needed interchange reconstruction exceeds $400 million, $200 million of which relates to projects for which project development is already in progress and which could be shelf-ready in three years.
      • Colton Crossing: Federal assistance is needed to improve the movement of goods and people, using a substantial investment in the construction of the $60 million Burlington, Northern, Santa Fe (BNSF) and Union Pacific (UP) railroad-to-railroad grade separation in Colton.
      • Supplemental Goods Movement Funding for State Route 58: Federal assistance is required to supplement state and regional highway allocations for widening of State Route 58. Caltrans indicates that 30% - 40% of the vehicles traveling on State Route 58 are trucks. Construction costs for these improvements total $190 million, which is 25% of the funds available on a statewide basis for this type of improvement.
    • Nexus of Goods Movement and Passenger Rail
      Ensure that as a condition of any federal financial assistance for railroad infrastructure improvements, public agencies have the ability to access railroad right-of-way for passenger rail purposes.
    • Truck Traffic Monitoring Demonstration Program
      Federal assistance is requested to develop technological means to monitor and classify truck traffic from the ports and Los Angeles basin to inland counties, northern California, and interstate destinations. Approximately $900,000 is requested to provide real time and/or periodic classification and count information on major goods movement routes in San Bernardino County. Reliable data provided for peak/off-peak periods is critical to understand and model truck traffic through Southern California and to monitor the effectiveness of public policies related to goods movement strategies over time. Currently, truck volume counts are obtained by personal observation and manual tallies performed for specific project development purposes.
    • Designation of U.S. 395 as a National Highway System High Priority Corridor
      It is appropriate that U.S. 395 be designated as part of the National Highway System High Priority Corridors. The northerly portion of U.S. 395 currently has such a designation, which should be extended to include southern portions serving California. Such a designation would qualify U.S. 395 for funding opportunities, which currently exist in TEA-21.
    • Direct the Department of Transportation to develop a plan to implement truck "road wear" taxes and phase out gross weight taxes
      Current truck road taxes based on gross weight encourage a configuration of weight and axles which severely damage the nation's and cities' roads and highways. This is because there is an exponential relationship between axle load and pavement damage (i.e., as axle weight increases, pavement damage increases exponentially). It is well documented that a pavement wear tax based on axle load (rather than on gross weight) would motivate a configuration of weight and axles on trucks that would save billions of dollars per a year on road maintenance without increasing the total amount of truck taxes. In southern California truck traffic is the fastest increasing component of total miles traveled, and as a result, wear and tear of highways is increasing dramatically.
  • Goods Movement Strategy

    The goods movement strategy identifies the issues facing San Bernardino County and documents potential facilities, revenue alternatives and legal interventions, which will minimize the undesirable impacts of goods movement and maximize benefits.

    SBCTA hopes to accomplish the following objectives in the development of a goods movement strategy:

    • Create greater awareness about goods movement issues affecting San Bernardino County among the SBCTA Board of Directors and state and federal elected and appointed officials.
    • Create greater public and media awareness of goods movement issues affecting San Bernardino County.
    • Obtain needed resources to minimize negative impacts from freight movement and maximize positive impacts.
    • Facilitate freight movement through the area in ways that provide the goods movement industry with improved mobility and predictability.
    • Reduce damage and maintenance costs inflicted by large trucks to highway systems.
    • Reduce air quality impacts of goods movement.
    • Prioritize, design, and construct facilities that will provide greatest mitigation of goods movement impacts.
    • Address safety issues related to merging automobile and heavy truck traffic.
    • Mitigate delay caused by increased rail and truck travel adjacent to arterial roadways.
    • Recognize potential need for multiple strategies: 1) West Valley, 2) East Valley, and 3) High Desert.
    • Define policies that will reduce street impacts by large trucks.
    • Define policies that will lead to greater use of the three airports in San Bernardino County
  • Inland Goods Movement Corridor Study

    The projected growth in the movement of goods by rail, particularly from the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, provided the stimulus for the Inland Goods Movement Corridor Study. This study was conducted to analyze the impact of increased train traffic on local circulation and to begin forming a plan that would minimize conflicts between trains and vehicular traffic, eliminate delay at rail crossings, and improve safety.

    The Inland Goods Movement Corridor Study focused on the main rail lines that extend east from the northern end the Alameda Corridor, passing through developed and rapidly urbanizing portions of San Bernardino County. The specific rail lines studied include the San Bernardino Metrolink line, the Union Pacific freight lines, and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe line that extends north from Riverside to San Bernardino and northward to Victor Valley and Barstow. Within the study area, these rail lines total 201.4 miles of track with 120 street crossings, of which 51 are grade-separated (train tracks and streets that are on separate levels) and 69 are at-grade (train tracks and streets are on the same level, causing delays and safety issues as cars wait for trains to pass).

    To assess the impact on local circulation, future rail freight volumes were derived from information in the San Pedro Bay Ports Long-Term Cargo Forecast in concurrence with staff from the railroads and consultants. The amount of vehicular delay at each at-grade crossing then was estimated for existing and future conditions, based on traffic volumes, train lengths, and the hourly distribution of vehicles and trains. The product of these calculations was a projected increase in total vehicular delay from 500 hours per day in 1999 to more than 6,200 hours per day in 2020.

    A consistent process was developed to identify appropriate improvements to be evaluated at each location. The process included:
    (1) identifying categories of potential improvements;
    (2) establishing thresholds of delay associated with each category; and 
    (3) selecting improvement options for each location. The improvement options then were reviewed with local agency staff and modified.

    Among the study findings are:

    • The total cost of the rail crossing mitigation is estimated to be $569.3 million.
    • Of the 69 at-grade rail crossings analyzed, 39 met the threshold for grade separation.
    • Eight of the 10 highest ranked grade separation projects are on the Alameda Corridor East rail freight line in San Bernardino County.
    • Five of the 23 highest ranked projects are beyond the Alameda Corridor East, on the Cajon Line segment running north of the Colton Junction through Cajon Pass and the High Desert.

    These study findings were used to create the Alameda Corridor - East Trade Corridor Plan.

  • Alameda Corridor— East Corridor Plan

    San Pedro Bay houses the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach - together the world's largest sea-land port. International trade moves through these ports to and from all parts of the nation. After docking, goods are transported by trucks if the distance is less than 500 miles, or by train for longer distances. Ninety percent of the port traffic to and from points outside the region crosses the Inland Empire. This freight traffic, already heavy, is projected to nearly triple in the next 20 years because of tremendous growth in international trade through the ports.

    SANBAG has helped develop the Alameda Corridor East Trade Plan to address goods movement on a regional level. This plan will help San Bernardino County meet its needs related to mobility, air quality and safety.

    About half of the cargo that reaches the harbors in the San Pedro Bay will continue its travel by rail. Under construction now is the Alameda Corridor, a 20-mile freight rail path from the ports to downtown L.A. Construction of the Alameda Corridor, a 20-mile freight rail path from the ports to downtown L.A., was completed in April 2002. The Alameda Corridor is a completely “grade separated” facility – at no point do train tracks and surface streets intersect. The separate corridor eliminates the need for rail crossings, thereby enhancing safety and efficiency. Another bonus is better air quality, because vehicles do not sit idling while waiting for trains.

    Rail freight heads north up the Alameda Corridor to downtown Los Angeles. At that point, goods will be routed east along the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern/Santa Fe lines to Colton and San Bernardino. From there, freight branches off to the north and east via Cajon Pass and Barstow, or to the southeast via Banning Pass.

    With increasing cargo volume in the ports and completion of the Alameda Corridor, rail traffic through San Bernardino County is projected to explode. Transportation planners predict that rail freight will grow 160 percent by 2020. Plans are underway for construction of the Alameda Corridor East, a 55-mile grade-separated facility that will follow Union Pacific lines from east L.A. to the Colton Crossing and the BNSF lines from L.A. to San Bernardino and Barstow via Riverside. This corridor is only partially funded at this time and likely will take more than a decade to complete. The corridor will connect the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to the transcontinental rail network, creating a faster, more efficient method of distributing the goods across the country.

    Benefits of the Alameda Corridor East include:

    • Improved safety and less delay time at 38 rail crossings countywide
    • Elimination of 250 tons of air pollutants
    • Better commercial and passenger vehicle access to airports, the BNSF intermodal yard, and distribution centers countywide

    To prepare for the anticipated increase in traffic, SANBAG, its member cities and San Bernardino County are working together to improve rail crossings countywide. SANBAG has identified 38 grade crossings that will require either grade separations or safety upgrades. Of these 38 crossings, 27 are slated for grade separations, seven are scheduled for safety upgrades and four are set for further improvements to existing grade separations. SANBAG studied the time that drivers spend waiting at these rail crossings and chose five as the agency's immediate priorities. These top five were: Ramona Avenue in Montclair, Hunts Lane in San Bernardino/Colton, Milliken Avenue in Ontario, Monte Vista Avenue in Montclair, and State/University in San Bernardino. The remaining crossings are slated for improvements as more funds become available.

    The Traffic Congestion Relief Program funded by AB 2928 provided $95 million to San Bernardino County to continue the improvements implemented during the past decade and to make safety upgrades along the corridor. An additional $6 million from Measure I - the county's half-cent transportation sales tax - has been allocated for grade separation design.

Steve Smith
Director of Planning
  (909) 884-8276 
  (909) 885-4407