Over the past several years, approximately $500 million in funding has been invested in goods movement related projects throughout Riverside County. These crossings present conflicts between rail and highway traffic and are located on the main lines of either the Union Pacific or Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroads. In 2006 and again in 2008, RCTC developed a funding strategy to serve as a blueprint for constructing many of these at-grade railroad crossings. In March 2012, the Commission adopted the Grade Separation Priority Update Study for Alameda Corridor East (Riverside County).
The various studies have assisted RCTC in securing much needed funding for the at-grade crossings. To date, the following grade separation projects have been completed and/or permanently closed due to roadway reconfiguration:
In addition, the March Inland Cargo Airport - I-215 Van Buren Ground Access Improvement project was completed. This was a key infrastructure project serving a large job center located in the county at the March Joint Powers Authority re-use area, estimated to create 38,000 jobs in the industrial, logistics, and medical sectors.
The following grade separation projects are under construction:
The impact of delays caused by freight trains traveling through Riverside County continues to be one of the area's most pressing transportation concerns. Southern California is the goods movement gateway to the nation because of the area's numerous advantages: deep-water marine ports, highly developed networks of highways and railways, an extensive concentration of warehousing and distribution facilities, as well as a local consumer market.
Congested highways and rail corridors are a barrier to keeping goods moving and the economy growing. Currently, there are 66 freight trains that pass through Riverside County on a daily basis; that number is projected to increase to 137 by 2035. Long waits at unimproved rail crossings create quality of life issues; productivity decreases, drivers become frustrated, local commerce suffers and disruptions to public safety and emergency responses occur.
Although growth in goods movement presents significant economic opportunities in terms of increased tax revenues and job creation, it also highlights the need to improve freight infrastructure. Riverside County serves as a conduit for the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach for transporting goods to areas beyond the state with more than 77 percent of freight being pass-through cargo destined for areas beyond the county line. Approximately 65 percent of the pass-through freight travels by rail and the remaining 35 percent travels by truck. This results in having a freight train at most rail crossings at least twice an hour. Slow freight trains create delays for vehicles at many of the at-grade railroad crossings throughout the county.
The Commission has been proactive in mitigating the negative impacts of goods movement: