Train trench opens in San Gabriel; Palo Altans have been talking about a similar idea

Above, a train speeds through the new trench that has opened in San Gabriel. Photo credit: city of San Gabriel.

By the Daily Post staff

While Palo Altans have talked for years about putting Caltrain into a trench, the Los Angeles suburb of San Gabriel today will celebrate the movement of the first train through a 1.4-mile trench at a cost of $313 million.

Trains will soon transit between the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports in a 30-foot-deep, 65-foot-wide trench. Flashing lights and guard arms at four railroad crossings will soon disappear.

In addition to eliminating rail crossings, where cars would back up waiting for a train to pass, the project is expected to reduce railroad noise.

Construction took just over four years.

Palo Alto leaders have been talking about possibly putting the Caltrain line in a trench since the mid-1990s. The idea has picked up steam recently as Caltrain gears up for electrification, which will allow the agency to run longer and more frequent trains to boost ridership.

A 2014 study looked at building a 2.2-mile train trench from San Antonio Road to Oregon Expressway, at an estimated cost of $1.05 billion.

Palo Alto is also looking at bridges, called grade separations, at rail crossings. City officials hope to make some decisions early next year and begin design work later in the year.

Menlo Park is considering grade separations, too. But council members Rich Cline and Catherine Carlton said in April that they wished the trains could run underground in a trench or tunnel.