October 18, 2017

The Honorable Elaine L. Chao
Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

 

Subject:  INFRA Grant Application – America’s Global Freight Gateway: Southern California Highway Strateg

Dear Secretary Chao:

This letter is to express Inland Action’s support for the California Department of Transportation’s (Caltrans’) application to the United States Department of Transportation’s Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) competitive grant program for the America’s Global Freight Gateway: Southern California Highway Strategy, submitted jointly with the regional and local transportation agencies, Southern California Association of Governments, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Orange County Transportation Authority, and San Bernardino County Transportation Authority.

America’s Global Freight Gateway: Southern California Highway Strategy is a project partnership of nearly $1 billion, seeking $155 million in INFRA grant funding.  The Highway Strategy embraces a comprehensive systems management approach to achieve critical bottleneck relief and traffic flow improvements to one of the most densely concentrated manufacturing and logistics hub in the nation. The three project components support the four key objectives in the INFRA Notice of Funding Opportunity (economic vitality, leveraging, innovation, and accountability), improving critical linkages between the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and the rest of the country. In brief, these project components are:

  • Component A—Los Angeles County State Route 57/60 Confluence

This component will unlock a bottleneck on SR-60 where SR-57 shares the alignment with SR‑60 in Los Angeles County near the Orange County border. The project will construct a new SR‑60 bypass off-ramp to Grand Avenue and a new bypass connector from Grand Avenue to SR‑60; reconstructs the Grand Avenue overcrossing; reconfigures the ramps at Grand Avenue; and extends a lane on SR‑57.

Component A will greatly relieve congestion and eliminate weaving of trucks and cars at the ninth most congested freight bottleneck in the nation, while significantly improving safety at the second-highest truck accident location in Southern California. Eliminating this bottleneck is projected to reduce truck vehicle-hours-traveled (VHT) at the confluence by over 211,000 hours annually and 662 hours daily, as well as save $1 billion of driver delay time over the next 20 years.

Total component cost is $264 million and the grant request for this component is $65 million.

  • Component B—Orange County State Route 57 Truck Climbing Lane Phase 1

This project component reconfigures the existing diamond interchange at SR-57/ Lambert Road to a loop ramp, adds a southbound lane on the off-ramp, and will accommodate a truck climbing lane.  The project component aims to provide relief to improve the traffic flow within the interchange by reducing current congestion, increasing signal queue capacity, and better accommodating anticipated traffic increases, thereby minimizing delays and potential safety hazards.  Accident data show that collision rates are higher than the state average for similar facilities.

A number of traffic movements within the immediate surrounding area of the SR- 57/Lambert Road interchange reflect the deficiencies of the facility and its interaction with the surrounding road system.  These deficiencies result in intersection blocking and ramp queuing onto the freeway mainline as the facility nears its capacity of 1,500 vehicles.  In addition, heavy weaving of vehicles and significant congestion result from high traffic volumes and compromised left turn movements.  The project will lay the groundwork for the future truck climbing lane on SR-57, which has an expected cost-benefit ratio of 10.0.  Estimates anticipate the future SR-57 truck climbing lane project will reduce greenhouse gas CO2 emissions by approximately 480,000 tons (over 20 years) and a return on investment of over 29%.

Total component cost is $100 million and the grant request for this component is $25 million.

  • Component C—San Bernardino County I-10 Corridor Contract 1 Project

Component C implements two tolled express lanes in each direction and strategic auxiliary lanes on I-10 from the Los Angeles County line to I-15, a distance of approximately 10 miles.  The goal is to both improve flow through this highly congested freight bottleneck on Interstate 10 as well as improve the overall management of traffic in this corridor via express toll lanes.

This component is immediately north of Ontario International Airport, a hub for United Parcel Service (UPS) and other major freight carriers, and currently carries more than 20,000 heavy duty trucks daily. I-10 is a critical freight corridor in Southern California and is a primary freight gateway to the nation. It is important for movement of exports and imports to and from the Pacific Rim through the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and to and from the southern U.S. (via I-10) and Midwest (via I-15).

The component will significantly increase corridor capacity and improve trip reliability in each direction on I-10. Express/Auxiliary Lane capacity improvements will increase speeds on the general purpose (GP) lanes on I-10 as well as provide enhanced traffic flows on the adjacent parallel freeways SR-60 and SR-210. The component will achieve an estimated 91 percent increase in GP lane speeds for westbound AM traffic and a 44 percent increase in GP lane speeds for eastbound PM traffic in 2025, benefiting both freight and passenger travel.

The total component cost is $625 million and the grant request for this component is $65 million.

The implementing agency for each component is a county transportation commission created pursuant to State law for the purpose of planning and delivering regional transportation improvements within each county in partnership with state and federal agencies. Each implementing agency is also the administrator of local voter-approved sales taxes that fund transportation improvements in each county. For Component C in San Bernardino County, the State Legislature has explicitly authorized SBCTA to utilize tolling for this project.

These project components, considered together, form the America’s Global Freight Gateway: Southern California Highway Strategy. Over 40 percent of the nation’s containerized imports and about 30 percent of exports arrive at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and traverses Southern California’s infrastructure, providing needed goods to the state and nation. As a result, its freight infrastructure and particularly its highway freight corridors are among the most congested in the nation. Likewise, the resulting harmful air quality and carbon emissions impacts are especially acute throughout the region. Approval of this INFRA application is critical to ensure the completion of these components in order to achieve the freight efficiency objectives of the INFRA grant program as well as those envisioned under the National Freight Program.

We urge your approval of this INFRA grant application. Thank you very much for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Deborah Barmack,
President