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Third time's a charm for Monte Vista railroad crossing
Turlock Mayor Gary Soiseth along with Congressman Jeff Denham and council member Bill DeHart listen in as Union Pacific representative Francisco Castillo discusses the work they are doing to the railroad crossings at Monte Vista and Golden State Boulevard Thursday morning. The intersection is scheduled to open today. - photo by CANDY PADILLA/ The Journal

Despite Thursday's wet weather, the third — and, hopefully, final — construction project on the Monte Vista Avenue railroad crossing is slated to be completed today, opening up one of Turlock's busiest thoroghfares.

Mayor Gary Soiseth credits Congressman Jeff Denham for getting Union Pacific Railroad back out to Turlock to fix the bumpy track crossing before the end of the year.

"We had some frustrations with Union Pacific Railroad, I'll be honest. This is a project that has been going on since the summer...They came down here to make some fixes, but those fixes weren't exactly adequate. And then we had to do some repaving that didn't really work out so well," said Soiseth during a Thursday morning press conference held at the railroad crossing. "[Union Pacific] has stepped up to the plate, thanks to the Congressman making some calls, which I appreciate. This is something that is really important to the City of Turlock and our community."

To which Denham added:  "And to me because I live down the street.”

The Congressman also recognized the economic hardship the closures have caused.

"This is a very busy season for our community, and every community. It's a critical piece of road right here. I'm glad [Union Pacific] could come in and rectify the situation," Denham said.

The work on the Monte Vista Avenue railroad crossing began in August when Union Pacific replaced its tracks and concrete panels within the crossing. The City of Turlock was informed the work would raise the tracks half an inch to an inch and prepared the roadway accordingly. When the work was completed, it was apparent that the tracks were raised more than one inch and the concrete panels were not flush with each other.

A bid was put out to repave the road near the tracks and George Reed Inc. of Modesto completed the project just two weeks ago. While the new gradient made the ride over the tracks less chaotic for motorists, there remained a significant bump where the rail panels are misaligned.

Union Pacific replaced 240 feet of concrete beds this week and installed new rail and ties in the estimated $350,000 project, according the Francisco Castillo, UP's director of public affairs.

Castillo apologized for the inconvenience the closures have had on local businesses and the community as a whole.

"We want to continue to be good partners. Safety is our highest priority," he said.