Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA)

CA: Placentia Avenue Undercrossing Opens to Traffic

Orange County Transportation Authority officials on March 12 celebrated a major milestone in the O.C. Bridges Program when they became the first to drive Placentia Avenue under the BNSF rail line.

The Placentia Avenue undercrossing is the first grade-separation project to open in OCTA’s $630 million O.C. Bridges Program, which is building seven such undercrossings or overcrossings to separate car traffic from rail traffic.

“This project translates into a better quality of life for residents and businesses in the area by speeding up commute times and eliminating the annoyance of having to wait at rail crossings for trains to pass by,” said OCTA Chairman Shawn Nelson, also the county’s Fourth District Supervisor. “It’s a great milestone to open this first grade-separation project to the public.”

Work on the Placentia Avenue project, in the cities of Placentia and Fullerton, began in January 2012. Since then, drivers have used a temporary road.

On March 12, two lanes in each direction along Placentia Avenue opened to the public. The contractor, Flatiron West, Inc. will continue working on finishing details to the project that are expected to be complete by June. Pedestrian and bicycle detours will remain in place.

Nearly 70 trains each day travel along the BNSF rail line through Anaheim, Fullerton and Placentia and that number is expected to increase more than 45 percent by 2030.

The grade-separation projects enhance safety by separating car traffic from train traffic and also by reducing the risk of fire trucks, ambulances and other emergency vehicles getting stuck at a rail crossing. Cars no longer idling at rail crossings will save gas and reduce air pollution.

Work on the Placentia Avenue undercrossing, when complete, is anticipated to cost about $69 million, a savings over the original $78 million estimate.

Work is continuing on the six other grade separations in the O.C. Bridges Program, with the next milestone scheduled to be the opening of the Kraemer Avenue undercrossing later this year.