There's good news and bad news regarding the Monte Vista Avenue railroad crossing. The bad news is drivers will once again have to find alternate routes to reach Monte Vista Crossings, Highway 99 and other destinations west of Golden State Boulevard as Monte Vista Avenue will be closed Monday through Thursday next week for additional repairs over the railroad tracks.
The good news is that Union Pacific Railroad finally agreed to fix its misaligned crossing that has made for a bumpy trip for drivers over the past five months.
This will be the third time in five months that the Monte Vista Avenue railroad crossing has been worked on. In August the road was closed as 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 last week. While the new gradient made the ride over the tracks less chaotic for motorists, there remains a significant bump where the rail panels are misaligned.
"Turlock's staff and contractors did an excellent job opening the railroad crossing as soon as possible," said Mayor Gary Soiseth about last week's repave. "Unfortunately, it was discovered that the same high quality of work was not done on the actual concrete panels on either side of the rails. We've held Union Pacific Railroad accountable for their less-than-satisfactory work and they will fix the depression in the tracks at no additional cost to Turlock's taxpayers. While the additional closure is a large inconvenience, I urge drivers to be patient as Union Pacific makes good on their promise to make the Monte Vista railroad crossing safe once again."
Mayor Soiseth credits Congressman Jeff Denham for working with Union Pacific to get the Turlock crossing fixed.
"I want to thank Congressman Jeff Denham for his personal attention to this issue with the crossing. Within just one day of calling him, he worked around the clock to make sure Union Pacific officials corrected the unsafe crossing and he is working tirelessly to recover all the costs Turlock had to spend in our own effort to fix the crossing," he said.
Beginning 6 a.m. Monday, Monte Vista Avenue will be closed to all traffic west of Golden State Boulevard for an anticipated four-day period. The roadway will reopen by 5 p.m. Thursday. Union Pacific RR will be doing a full reconstruction of the crossing, which will include replacing the rail bed, rails and supporting infrastructure as well as all new concrete panels. Union Pacific will also be responsible for any necessary repaving to match the roadbed with the new crossing panels to provide for a smooth transition.
This railroad crossing accommodates more than 30,000 vehicle trips daily, according to the City, and is a vital arterial roadway serving the northern quadrants of Turlock.
Once again, detours will be in place and signage will be posted to assist drivers. Motorists are advised to use either the Taylor Road or Fulkerth Road exits off Highway 99 or be prepared to detour around the construction area using Countryside Drive. The City of Turlock is asking drivers to be patient as there will be some delays for the four-day period in traveling through the area.
All construction costs associated with this work will be borne by Union Pacific Railroad. The repaving work the City of Turlock contractor completed last week cost the City approximately $100,000. The City is also looking for Union Pacific to reimburse the funds spent on the repave.