East Sacramento Neighborhood Seeks the Truth

Unknown-1Councilman Cohn needs to stop saying that the Alhambra vehicle tunnel is still being considered, and why last week’s meeting with neighborhood leaders to discuss and rank the Alhambra vehicle tunnel alternatives was completely unproductive. Our position needs to be that we oppose this project. This information is directly out of the Final EIR (reasons why Alhambra is not being considered for a vehicle tunnel):

“A new railroad bridge structure/roadway underpass at the northern terminus of Alhambra Boulevard was considered and was determined to be infeasible and not preferred compared to 40th Street, for a number of reasons. These were documented in the Draft EIR (Chapter 2-Project Description, Site Access Overview, page 2-46) and also summarized below:

·         According to UP the railroad line must be kept in operation during construction of the new railroad bridge/underpass at the Alhambra location. Maintaining operations would require building temporary tracks (“shooflys”) alongside the existing tracks for a distance dictated by railroad design criteria (e.g., acceptable radii). Because of the proximity of Alhambra Boulevard to the Capital City Freeway, constructing shooflys at this location would require the building of a new bridge over the freeway at significant cost, assuming that Caltrans and UP would approve the building of the bridge. In addition, given design requirements, the shoofly would likely extend beyond the 28th Street at-grade crossing and thus likely require construction of a new temporary at-grade crossing at 28th Street. The shoofly issue does not arise in the context of the proposed bicycle/pedestrian tunnel because that tunnel is proposed to be constructed by boring under the tracks without the need of a shoofly.

·         Nearby properties along Alhambra Boulevard south of the UPRR tracks would be impacted by the construction of the Alhambra underpass as the proposed roadway elevation would be lower than existing. The parcel at the northwest corner of B Street and Alhambra Boulevard would be mostly impacted with the construction of bridge/roadway underpass and would require driveway modifications.

·         Due to the proximity of A Street Bridge with a roadway underpass at Alhambra Boulevard, there will be a need to construct another bridge (A Street) over the Alhambra Boulevard extension into the project site or closure of the A Street access. The extension of Alhambra Boulevard onto the site will also be in conflict with the City’s potential surge tank location which is north of the extension of A Street.

·         If the Alhambra Boulevard underpass were constructed as a second access, its close proximity to the A Street access does not provide for appropriate emergency access to the site.

There was an example provided by a commenter for a project in Merced (BNSF Railroad Underpass at G Street) where a staging approach was used. It is not feasible to use the staging approach utilized in the Merced project for a vehicular underpass alternative at the Alhambra location since the Merced and Alhambra locations have different characteristics. The staging concept used at G Street in Merced required intermittent track closures, yet there were available siding tracks that were used during construction that kept train services in operation during construction. Based on information provided by UP, they will not allow removing the tracks from service at this location, therefore this phasing/staging plan is not possible. (See e-mail from Patrick Prososki, UP Program Manager Commuter Operations, to John Bishop, Parsons, dated December 3, 2013, attached hereto as Exhibit 1 and letter from Patrick Prososki of UP to John Bishop of Parsons, dated February 24, 2014, attached hereto as Exhibit 2). Therefore, the project must shoofly all tracks impacted by the project unless the work remains under the tracks, as is currently proposed for the pedestrian and bike underpass.

In addition to the technical and engineering obstacles outlined above, the project applicant has indicated that an access point at Alhambra Boulevard is economically infeasible. According to an “Estimate for Full Width Roadway” prepared in November 2013, by Parsons, the cost to construct the Alhambra underpass is $28.4 million (Alhambra Underpass at UPRR Estimate for Full Width Roadway, submitted to Encore McKinley Village LLC, prepared by Parsons, attached hereto as Exhibit 3). The estimate does not include the substantial additional costs associated with required easement and landscaping. The City has reviewed the cost estimate and determined that it was within the expected range of costs.

For each of the above reasons, a bridge/roadway underpass at Alhambra Boulevard was deemed to be infeasible and not proposed as an access point to the project site.”

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