Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Union Pacific Track Replacement

The Union Pacific Rail Road will start replacing the north track starting from west to east.  They will reach the city limits of Arlington on January 16th and finish the project on the 24th.  Bowen, Davis, Cooper, Center and Mesquite will all be closed at one time.  Collins, Stadium and Great Southwest will also require closing.  However Union Pacific has indicated that they will make special provisions to reopen Bowen and Davis prior to closing Collins and Stadium.  Once closed all streets will remain closed approximately 4-5 days.  Due to the width of Cooper, it will be closed for 7-8 days.  Green Oaks, Forest Edge, Fielder, West and 360 will serve as detour routes during the project.

Essentially UP will be removing all ties and gravel beds.  They will be installing concrete ties, a new gravel bed and new rail.  During this project regular train schedules will use the south track.  City Staff is working with UP and their traffic control contractor, RoadSafe Traffic Systems, to minimize the impact on the City and its traffic congestion.  Hey I'm just the messenger here.  They didn't ask me.

Since we are talking Rail Road, let's discuss the below grade crossing at Stadium.  If you aren't up on this issue, then let me summarize.  The initial estimate for a sub grade crossing (going under the track) was $15 million.  It ballooned to $20 million shortly thereafter.  Then UP stated that they wanted to be able to add a 3rd and possibly a 4th track for future expansion.  That, and apparently some Federal requirements that weren't taken into consideration on the initial bid increased the cost to $35 million.  Right now we are in the educational phase of the process.  I asked the question why did we pick Stadium Way to invest in?  Why not Collins or something with more traffic and a bigger benefit to the traffic/train problem?  The answer was that, there isn't enough room between Abrams and Division to make the grade passable on Collins.  They would have to move the intersections at both Division and Abrams.  Now I understand that trains are a problem in Arlington.  There are about 30 of them a day and they cause havoc in our north/south traffic.  But when you consider the amount of money it would cost to drive under a track when 360 is less than a mile away, then I question the civic value of the project.  The jury is still out and I need much more information on this issue. 

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