U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta on Tuesday lauded a $47-million railroad bridge designed to shave minutes off Metrolink morning commute times and ease rail congestion in downtown Los Angeles.
On cue, a Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight train, Metrolink commuter train and Amtrak Surfliner passed over and beside one another with an ease not possible before the span was built.
The bridge, more than eight football fields long and up to five stories tall, spans the Los Angeles River, downtown rail yards and several busy streets, including Washington Boulevard.
Mineta, during a ceremony staged near the spot where the bridge crosses the river, called it "an engineering marvel."
"The state-of-the art architecture will eliminate the conflicts between freight trains, passenger trains and street traffic in this heavily congested area," Mineta said.
Construction began in 1999, and the bridge was opened to train traffic several weeks ago. A major feature is that it softens a curve that forced commuter trains to slow as they approached or left Union Station.
The new span allows commuter trains to pass through the downtown rail yards at an average speed of 45 mph, compared to the 15 mph before the span was built. Railroad officials hope it will cut at least three minutes off commute times.
The main financing came from the Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority. Metrolink contributed $7 million and will be responsible for maintaining the bridge.