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Metro Completes Design for 210 Freeway Crash Barrier to Keep Trucks Off Gold Line

Metro has a problem with trucks crashing into its L (Gold) Line mid-freeway tracks in Pasadena. Since 2008 there have been more than eleven 210 Freeway crashes that have sent trucks onto the light rail tracks right-of-way. Mercifully, no transit riders have been killed - yet - though some of the crashes have resulted in extended transit service interruptions.

Metro voted to fund next steps to fix the unsafe freeway conditions that result in crashes repeatedly shutting down the Gold Line. Photo via CBS
2018 truck crash onto the Gold Line tracks. Photo via CBS
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Metro has been working on finalizing designs for upgrading the barriers between the rail line and the freeway. This week the agency released a memo (on page 15 of today's San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments Transportation Committee agenda packet) sharing final cost estimates and an anticipated schedule for construction.

Project planning has already proven to be challenging. Due to the relatively tight space, construction will necessitate closing a freeway lane and operating the Gold Line on a single track. This resulted in Caltrans requiring extensive traffic modeling studies.

Metro's plan is to replace existing 32-inch tall barriers with 56-inch tall ones.

Cross-sections of Metro's planned 210 Freeway barriers
Cross-sections of Metro's planned 210 Freeway barriers - via 2019 Metro Staff Report
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The six-mile-long 210 Freeway barrier upgrade project is broken into two phases.

Construction is somewhat easier/cheaper east of the Sierra Madre Villa Station through the city of Arcadia. Though, to date, more-or-less all the serious reported crashes have occurred in the western portion of the project, through the city of Pasadena.

Map of phases of Metro's 210 Freeway Barrier project - via xxxx
Map of phases of Metro's 210 Freeway Barrier project - via 2019 Metro Staff Report
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In 2016, Metro's very rough cost estimate for the full twelve miles of new barrier was approximately $145 million. Since then, the agency has spent $22.5 million on design/engineering and environmental clearance. Metro now anticipates that the project will cost a total of $425 million.

Metro estimates for 210 Freeway barrier project costs and time
Metro estimates for 210 Freeway barrier project costs and time
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The project is not yet funded. Given the potential loss of transit rider life and limb if the current situation persists, it should be a priority for Metro (and presumably Caltrans) in seeking federal or state project funds. It may be well-suited for federal infrastructure monies, anticipated to be approved soon.

Metro estimates that, if funding is secured, phase 1 might be completed in 2025, and phase 2 might be completed in 2028.

The SGVCOG Transportation Committee will receive a Metro presentation on the 210 Freeway barrier project at its 4 p.m. meeting today. Details on accessing the meeting are in the meeting agenda packet.

SBLA San Gabriel Valley coverage, including this article and SGV Connect, is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

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