Signal Replacements at the Port of Los Angeles: Managing Downtime to Maximize Uptime

by Balfour Beatty

July 1, 2022

At a time when international supply chains are experiencing unprecedented disruption, Balfour Beatty is making an impact where it matters most: at the nation’s busiest port.

Balfour Beatty’s Port of Los Angeles (Port of LA) project team recently achieved a significant milestone: completion of all signal cutovers. 

The Port of LA is often promoted as “America’s Port,” and for good reason – the 7,500-acre harbor district and 43 miles of waterfront employ two million people worldwide and import approximately 20 percent of all cargo entering the U.S.

The many shipping companies operating in the district transport their cargo across the U.S. via central rail lines. That cargo includes crucial raw and manufactured goods the rest of the country needs, so those companies depend on a system of rail switches and signals to efficiently and safely direct train traffic. In the earliest days of industrialization, ports leveraged manual switches and flags, but the systems of today are computerized and instead rely on complex networks of sensors. 

The Port of LA project team has spent the last year installing new signal switches, replacing and renovating old signal systems, and improving the overall efficiency of this bustling hub of international commerce. To impact the port’s throughput as little as possible, the team conducted a series of time-sensitive signal outages, strategically blacking out pre-appointed sections of the harbor district at a time and installing the new signals and switches. 

Balfour Beatty also replaced many aging systems with new, active wheel sensors. Highly reliable, more cost-effective than other options, and requiring minimal long-term maintenance, the sensors ensure that trains safely steer clear of one another. 

Safer railyard interchanges prevent accidents, increase the efficiency with which goods leave the port, and prevent costly backups that can have a major impact on what consumers find on their store shelves.

Balfour Beatty is honored to play a vital role in delivering the infrastructure that drives our economy and connects critical supply chains to the communities in which we live and build. 

Learn more about the Port of Los Angeles project.