Gold Line Repairs From Thanksgiving Day Crash Continue, Officials Seek Long-Term Solution to Prevent Vehicles from Crashing onto Tracks

A six-mile “Bermuda Triangle” section of the I-210 in Pasadena has seen repeated truck crashes damaging Gold Line infrastructure

Published : Monday, December 3, 2018 | 6:22 AM

A Pasadena firefighter surveys the 1:53 a.m. Thanksgiving Day big rig crash on the I-210 Freeway near San Gabriel Blvd. overpass which saw a truck slide on wet roads, crash through the Gold Line retaining wall, damage signal equipment and end up near the tracks. Image by RMG News

Metro Gold Line trains are expected to resume normal operating schedules through East Pasadena Dec. 9 as crews work to repair damage caused by a big rig crash on Thanksgiving Day.

An $11.8 million design project to raise the cement barriers between freeway lanes and the train tracks is also underway in hopes of making similar crashes less likely in the future, L.A. Metro officials said. But they warn that the construction project is complicated, costly and could have major effects on area traffic.

Two types of barriers currently proposed for the I-210 Barrier project. One (top) will be used when the barrier is on the ground and the other (bottom) on bridges and retaining walls. Images courtesy L.A. Metro

In the most recent incident on Thanksgiving, a big rig struck the barrier and jumped onto the tracks near Sierra Madre Boulevard, according to the California Highway Patrol. It snarled traffic for eight hours and damaged the Gold Line’s signal system, officials said.

Delays of up to 10 minutes have continued ever since to the damage. But the repairs should be done by Dec. 9, L.A. Metro spokesman Brian Haas said.

“The work on the new signal case is almost finished,” he said. “The installation is expected to occur [this] week between the hours of 9 p.m. and 4 a.m.”

The Gold Line has seen 10 crashes in which vehicles ended up on the tracks, Haas said. Nine of them involved trucks and one involved a sedan.

At least four crashes involving vehicles slamming into the barriers have been reported this year.

The fix, however, is not an easy one.

“This is an incredibly constrained location. There is neither space on the track side nor on the freeway side,” Haas said. “Construction requires space.”

That not only makes the work time-consuming and expensive, but it will take a significant toll on 210 Freeway traffic, he said.

“To build these barriers we will need to take the HOV lanes for the duration of the contract and the next general purpose lane during weekends and nights. We’ll also need to single-track our rail operations,” Haas said.

“Taking freeway lanes in that area will result in traffic delays that are beyond the ‘acceptable’ range,’” he continued. “This will in turn affect the air quality and noise in the area. These, together with the traffic congestion on the freeway and local roads due to freeway traffic being diverted into the local streets, will require an expanded environmental study that translates into time and money.”

The extra study, which will include a detailed “traffic micro-simulation study” to predict the project’s impact on vehicle travel and help develop better mitigation measures, according to Haas.

Despite the challenges, “The Metro Board has already committed to completing this project,” he said.

The design phase of the project is divided into two segments, Haas explained. Work for the area east of Michillinda Avenue into Arcadia is slated to be completed by June of 2019. Design work for the area west of Michillinda Avenue to Marengo Avenue is scheduled to be done by April of 2020.