Wednesday, 23rd September 2009 by Ian Brown
The Alameda Trench is a 16-km train route which runs 10m below ground-level through the centre of Los Angeles.
Before the trench was completed, trains up to 2.5km long would have to slowly pass through around 200 grade-level crossings (i.e. no bridges or tunnels), which resulted in considerable traffic holdups and pollution from stopped vehicles. Since the $2.4billion construction project was completed in 2002, the trench has significantly eased congestion through central Los Angeles.
The trench is part of the Alameda Corridor which takes 30-60 trains per day from the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles to locations across the United States – accounting for up to 1/4 of all consumer products imports. Design and construction is underway for an expansion to the east, into San Gabriel.
Somewhat surprisingly, given the number and length of trains which pass through the trench, none are visible on Google Maps. We can, however, see some on Bing Maps’ Bird’s Eye View. And this Youtube video gives you a sense of what it’s like to travel through the trench which is only used for freight traffic (though some ceremonial passenger trains did run through the Corridor on its opening day).
I have to wonder if the struts create a disturbing strobe effect for the train drivers? ↩