Construction is to begin soon on a train overpass at South Street and more than six miles of sound-deflecting walls next to the Union Pacific Railroad tracks in north Long Beach.
The work, estimated at $38 million, was spelled out in a 1992 agreement among the city of Long Beach, the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, and the railroad to minimize disruptions from a projected increase in train traffic as the ports grow.
The first 10,000 feet of sound-barrier walls should be under construction by the end of the month, said Ed Loftesnes, construction division manager for the Long Beach Public Works Dept. Work on an additional 33,000 feet of sound walls is scheduled to get under way in late summer.
When both phases are completed, the walls will stretch from just north of Willow Street to just south of Artesia Boulevard.
The city has almost finished designing the overpass on the Union Pacific tracks midway between Paramount Boulevard and Cherry Avenue, which will eliminate traffic delays caused by trains, Loftesnes said.
Eight trains now use those tracks daily, blocking South for a total of 22 minutes, and the number of trains is expected to increase, according to a city traffic study.
The roadway at the South Street overpass will be lowered six feet and the track will be raised 16 feet. Construction is scheduled to begin in November and take a year to complete. South Street will be reduced to one lane of traffic in each direction at times.
The pact between the ports and Union Pacific also calls for train overpasses or underpasses to be built at Willow, Artesia and Candlewood Street, if they are deemed necessary at a later date.
Train traffic eventually may drop once all port-related rail shipments are shifted to the Alameda rail corridor, which is expected to be completed in about 10 years.