Project Information

Waste-by-Rail Background
Video of the Waste-by-Rail System
Project Description
Facility Operations
Environmental Protection
Project Status

Waste-by-Rail Background

Since the late 1980s, the Sanitation Districts, in conjunction with other public agencies, have been studying means to address the projected shortfall in local solid waste disposal capacity. Currently, nearly all refuse in Los Angeles County is transported to disposal sites in the metropolitan area by truck. However, as public opposition to siting new or expanding existing disposal facilities near urban areas has grown, sites farther from the Los Angeles Basin have become more desirable, despite the transport costs associated with longer transport distances. For some sites, such as the Mesquite Regional Landfill in Imperial County, rail transport is an efficient means to transport refuse to remote disposal sites. The basic concept of waste-by-rail (WBR) is to remove recyclable materials from solid waste, put the remaining solid waste into containers, and ship the containers via rail to a landfill outside of urbanized areas. As part of the WBR system, the Sanitation Districts have constructed the Puente Hills Materials Recovery Facility (PHMRF) and the Mesquite Regional Landfill in Imperial County. The proposed Puente Hills Intermodal Facility (PHIMF) is the final component of the initial WBR system that needs to be developed to begin shipment of solid waste by rail.

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Project Description

The Sanitation Districts began construction of the PHIMF in the City of Industry in 2009. The PHIMF will be a dedicated rail yard to serve the Sanitation Districts’ WBR program. At the PHIMF, rail-ready shipping containers of municipal solid waste (MSW) will be transferred from trucks to trains for transport to a remote landfill.

The project includes three main features:1) intermodal facility; 2) off-street access; and 3) rail improvements within Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) right-of-way.

Site information

Location: 2500 and 2520 Pellissier Place, City of Industry

Project Site Area: 17.2 acres

Intermodal Facility

Design Capacity: 2 trains per day (~ 8,000 tons per day of containerized municipal solid waste)

Onsite Loading tracks: Six (each at approximately 800 ft in length)

Ancillary facilities: Administration building, employee/visitor parking, maintenance facilities, and container storage

Operating Hours: 24 hours per day, seven days per week

Off-street Access

To alleviate potential local traffic impacts, all inbound and outbound truck traffic to the intermodal facility would access the facility via the existing Puente Hills Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) entrance at Crossroads Parkway South. The Sanitation Districts are constructing a dedicated off-street access that would connect the Puente Hills MRF to the PHIMF.

Rail Improvements within UPRR right-of-way

  • Construction of an additional railroad track that would span 3.5 miles from Mission Mill Road to approximately 3,500 feet west of 7th Avenue.
  • Modifications to the Peck Road railroad bridge, existing railroad underpasses at Crossroads Parkway North and SR-60, and the at-grade rail crossing at Workman Mill Road.
  • Installation of new railroad signals and modifications to existing railroad signals to further improve safety.

Facility Operations

The primary function at the intermodal facility is to load full containers of MSW onto railcars and unload empty containers from railcars to trucks. No municipal solid waste would be processed at the facility; the facility would only function as a handling facility for containers carrying municipal solid waste that had been loaded elsewhere. When a train with empty containers enters the arrival track from the main line, the UPRR locomotives would disconnect from the train and either be stored on the maintenance tracks or depart this area. The train would be disconnected into approximately 800 feet sections of railcars, which would be pulled by a smaller switch locomotive onto the loading tracks at the facility. The process would be repeated until all six onsite loading tracks are full.

Containers of MSW would be offloaded from the railcars and placed directly onto a truck or stacked along the loading tracks using an overhead crane. The trucks would transport empty containers back to the Puente Hills MRF or other materials recovery facilities. When the railcars on the loading tracks are full of loaded containers, the switch locomotive would pull each section onto the departure track, where a full train would be assembled. UPRR locomotives would be utilized to transport the full train via the Union Pacific main line to the Mesquite Regional Landfill.

Environmental Protection

The City of Industry prepared an environmental impact report (EIR) to evaluate potential environmental impacts from the facility. To reduce potential environmental impacts associated with the project, the Final EIR for the Puente Hills Intermodal Facility included a comprehensive list of mitigation measures and design features. Listed below are a few of the notable mitigation measures and features designed to reduce noise impacts:

  • Construct sound walls and install upgraded doors and windows for select residential communities;
  • Implement a Quiet Zone that eliminates the sounding of train horns at the Workman Mill Road/Union Pacific Railroad crossing through improving railroad signals at the crossing;
  • Use alternative construction methods that do not involve vibration-intensive construction equipment such as pile driving (sonic, vibratory, or impact) and tunnel boring machines;
  • Use commercially available clean fueled locomotives and equipment;
  • Equip construction equipment with the most modern and effective noise control devices, e.g., mufflers, lagging, and/or motor enclosures; and
  • Install temporary noise barrier(s) between the construction equipment and the noise-sensitive receptors along the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) right-of-way;
  • Install an advance grade crossing warning system to alert motorists about impending delays and recommend detours; thereby, reducing potential local traffic impacts; and
  • Provide a construction relations officer to act as a liaison with neighbors and local businesses concerning construction activities.

The City of Industry certified the Final EIR on June 12, 2008, and approved a conditional use permit for the project on June 26, 2008.

Project Status

  • Approved an Option to Purchase agreement with IUDA to acquire property in November 2004
  • Filed Conditional Use Permit application with the City of Industry on December 22, 2005
  • Completed Land Use Permitting and CEQA in June 2008
  • Acquired property in May 2009
  • Final Design Complete – Mid 2010
  • Construction Starts – Late 2009
  • Start-up Operations – To be determined