Original estimates calculated the project would cost about $202 million and be finished in 2014. Due to cooperation between Caltrans and SANBAG, innovative construction methods and a competitive marketplace that resulted in much lower bids than expected, the project wrapped up eight months ahead of schedule for $93 million.
"Not only will this project improve safety and reliability for passenger and freight trains, it will also improve air quality and reduce congestion on the streets and highways of the Inland Empire," said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty.
Transportation officials estimate the project will deliver $241 million in travel time savings and reduce greenhouse gas emissions 34,000 tons annually.
Colton Crossing was first constructed in 1883 and nearly 130 years later, virtually all trains entering or leaving Southern California use the at-grade rail-to-rail crossing, which was a major cause of congestion on commuter and freight rail lines.
A new, elevated 1.4-mile-long overpass has now removed the chokepoint that existed where the BNSF mainline crossed Union Pacific tracks in Colton. Putting the UP tracks above the BNSF line allows both railroads to use the tracks safely and eliminate waits as crossing trains pass.
The project was a partnership between Caltrans, SANBAG, the city of Colton, UP and BNSF. Funding was provided by state and federal sources, including $34 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and $41 million from Proposition 1B, a 2006 voter-approved transportation bond. The remaining funding was provided by UP and BNSF.