In the goods movement industry, every mile counts.
And when that mile overlaps with an arterial highway adjacent to the nation’s busiest harbor complex, it needs to be in top condition.
That’s why the West Anaheim Street Improvement Project rose to the top of the Port of Long Beach’s list of road reconstruction projects within the harbor district. While not as high profile as the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project or the new Middle Harbor Terminal, a road that connects the Port to the rest of the nation is just as vital, said President Doug Drummond of the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners.
“This stretch of West Anaheim Street is a critical link in our freight and commuter transportation network,” Drummond said. “The new road benefits everyone.”
On Oct. 7, the Port and the community celebrated completion of the project that made more than 5,000 feet of West Anaheim Street from the western city limits to the Long Beach (710) Freeway a safer, smoother ride for all motorists. The street, which has three lanes in each direction, handles about 30,000 vehicle trips a day.
Trucks account for more than 25 percent of the daily trips. Most are heavy-duty drayage trucks connecting the Port of Long Beach’s Piers A and B and terminals north of the Cerritos Channel in the Port of Los Angeles to the interstate.
The project’s significance is greater than just one mile of roadway. It is the first in a series of meat-and-potatoes public works projects within the harbor district’s 5-square-mile zone aimed at ensuring that core infrastructure meets the needs of the world-class port it supports, said Neil Morrison, Assistant Managing Director of Engineering Design and Maintenance.
“We have 30 centerline miles of roadways, 100 miles of water systems, 80 miles of sewer systems, 39 lift stations, 70 miles of storm drains and 100 miles of electrical system that surround our terminals. Cargo can’t flow if those systems aren’t working,” Morrison said.
When Morrison joined the Port in 2009, his to-do list included developing a master plan for maintaining those systems. Given its age, heavy use and level of deterioration, West Anaheim Street quickly emerged as the segment of roadway most in need of repair.
Uneven and heavily rutted, West Anaheim Street had a pavement condition rating of less than 20 on a 100-point scale. “There hadn’t been any serious work on that street for at least 30 years. The concrete paving underneath the old asphalt was the original road probably dating back to the 1940s or 1950s,” Morrison said.
Planning and design work began in 2011, and the Port broke ground on the new road in September 2013. The yearlong construction project cost $8 million and was completed on schedule. The timing ensures the road is ready to handle additional traffic during future stages of the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project likely to divert more vehicles to West Anaheim Street.
To make the road safer for motorists, the Port tore out the old concrete and removed abandoned utility lines to rebuild West Anaheim Street from the ground up. A sleek top layer of asphalt concrete now sits on a sub-base of high-grade large aggregate for a smooth ride on a road with lifespan of 20 to 25 years. In the process, the Port corrected the crossfall – the slope from the center of the road to the edges – to improve driving conditions in all weather. The Port also upgraded intersections, replaced damaged curbs and gutters, rebuilt driveways and raised medians.
Technological improvements include new street signals with better visibility and in-road traffic monitoring loops whose sensors track the flow of traffic. That capability allows signals to calibrate for slower or busier times and minimize traffic congestion.
Making the street safer for pedestrians was also a top priority. Signals now have crosswalk countdown timers, root-damaged sidewalks are a thing of the past, and corners have access ramps that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Port also replaced four bus stops serving three city lines and one Metro line connecting Long Beach to Los Angeles International Airport. All are now equipped with new route maps and buttons that riders can push to light a signal alerting drivers to stop, especially at night.
Innovation overlaps with environmental upgrades, which include energy-efficient LED lighting, among the numerous green features incorporated into the project. “Our commitment to environmental stewardship permeates every facet of every project,” Morrison said.
To make the project sustainable, the Port planted 100 new trees, more than half of which are Washingtonian date palms. The majestic trees are well suited to West Anaheim in form and function. Tall and slender, they grace the medians while preserving the vertical clearance needed by heavy-duty drayage trucks navigating the corridor.
Other green features include landscaping with drought-resistant plants and sidewalks with permeable pavers, tree boxes, and bioswales – sloped vegetation. The design features act as natural filters that capture contaminants such as metals from runoff water before they enter storm drains. The leftovers are food for native plants.
Beautifying West Anaheim Street was a given. The project has successfully transformed the arterial road into a more attractive corridor that the area most heavily impacted by Port operations deserves, Drummond said. “West Long Beach is the Port’s neighborhood.”
A model approach
The West Anaheim Street Improvement Project also serves as a model for communication and execution for similar maintenance and reconstruction projects in the queue that are part of the Port’s overall $4 billion capital program. The project was carefully coordinated with other local, regional and state agencies, including city and county public works departments and Caltrans. Their collective support, which included a $400,000 contribution from the Long Beach Public Works Department, was essential to the project’s success, Morrison said.
The Port also conducted extensive outreach to local businesses, neighborhood groups, Port tenants and other stakeholders to solicit their input and keep everyone informed – especially those directly impacted by the construction – every step of the way. As a result of their feedback, the work was done in phases to keep two lanes of traffic flowing in each direction, maintain access to cross streets and ensure local businesses could operate during construction.
Trucking, manufacturing, construction and industrial supply companies are among those in the project area, said Tony Rivera, president of the Westside Project Area Council, which represents about 300 businesses and residents in West Long Beach. Anaheim Street is a major access road for his own company, Easy Roll Off Services, which provides industrial dumpsters for collecting construction debris and recyclable materials.
“We worked with the Port from beginning to end and now we have a street that’s safer, more environmentally friendly and beautiful,” Rivera said. “This project means a lot. In building a new road, the Port laid a great foundation for working together in the future.”