At some time or another, most of us have experienced sitting in our cars at a railroad crossing waiting for what seems like the longest freight train in the world go by. And it always seems to happen when you’re late for an appointment or for once trying to make it home in time for dinner.  If you live or work in the San Gabriel Valley, sitting in traffic waiting for the freight-train to go by is likely a daily occurrence.

With vehicle and rail traffic projected to increase, in 1998, the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments (SGVCG) decided to do something about the safety and traffic concerns caused by the poorly designed and outdated intersections where cars, pedestrians and train traffic meet. SGVCG which is made up of 31 cities, created the Alameda Corridor East Construction Authority (ACE), and tasked it with addressing and mitigating the safety impacts of the increasing rail traffic at the various intersections.

Of the various safety improvements, grade separation projects[1] have been the most effective projects to eliminate train-vehicle and train-pedestrian conflicts and to relieve congestion.  However, the benefits of these projects to the overall community have come at a hefty price tag to some of the adjacent property and business owners who have had their properties and businesses forcibly acquired by ACE by or under the threat of eminent domain to make way for the grade separations.

In particular, there are three grade separation projects on the horizon. The Montebello Boulevard and Maple Avenue projects in the City of Montebello and the Turnbull Canyon Road grade separation project in the City of Industry.  In a February 25, 2015 article, the Whittier Daily News reported that the two new proposed grade separations in the City of Montebello were approved by the Montebello City Council.  The new $142 million grade separation projects will create underpasses at the Union Pacific Railroad and Montebello Boulevard and Maple Avenue.  In a more recent article published yesterday, the Whittier Daily News reported that at an open house earlier this week, ACE revealed a preliminary design plan which shows the affected parcels for the Montebello Boulevard project.  One of the affected parcels is located at 439 Montebello Way.  The acquisition of this parcel will result in the displacement of multiple businesses including Otani Radiator and Auto Repair, a family business owned by brothers Louie and Leonardo Ramirez.  After operating at its current location for over 25 years, if the project proceeds as currently designed, Otani will be forced to vacate and relocate its home of over two decades.  ACE’s new study for the Montebello Boulevard project identifies up to six full acquisitions and approximately 23 properties where at least a portion of the parcel will be acquired, meaning the impacts to property and business owners can be wide spread.  No specific information appears to be available yet on the Maple Avenue project.

The Montebello City Council will further discuss the Montebello Boulevard and Maple Avenue projects at its July 13 City Council meeting. As indicated, in addition to the Montebello projects, ACE is also in the preliminary planning stages for a grade separation project at Turnbull Canyon Road in the City of Industry.  Regardless of which properties the designs affect, the projects are likely to adversely impact multiple property owners, occupants and business operators.

We’ve represented and continue to represent property and business owners against ACE to ensure they are receiving the maximum compensation and benefits they are entitled to. We will continue to monitor the progress of these projects, so be sure to check back often.  Alternatively, please feel free to contact me and I’m happy to provide you with further updates and discuss your particular matter with you.

A complete list of completed, under construction and upcoming ACE grade separation projects, including a map of where the projects are located, can be found on ACE’s website under the projects tab here. Some of the most notable ACE grade separation projects include:

Completed Grade Separations

  • Baldwin Avenue, El Monte
  • Ramona Boulevard, El Monte
  • Orange Avenue, City of Industry
  • Sunset Avenue, City of Industry
  • Nogales Street North, City of Industry and West Covina, and
  • Brea Canyon Road, Diamond Bar and City of Industry

Under Construction

  • San Gabriel Trench, San Gabriel
  • Puente Avenue, La Puente
  • Nogales Street South, City of Industry, and
  • Fairway Drive, Walnut

In Design/Planning

  • Maple Avenue, Montebello
  • Montebello Boulevard, Montebello
  • Durfee Avenue, Pico Rivera
  • Turnbull Canyon Road, City of Industry
  • Fullerton Road, City of Industry