Union Pacific upgrades crossings in, around Merced

07/01/2014 8:24 PM

07/01/2014 8:26 PM

The Union Pacific Railroad is winding up a two-week process to upgrade its grade crossings in the Merced area.

Workers on Tuesday were finishing up rebuilding the crossings at Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Gerard Avenue; three other projects are scheduled later south of Merced.

All new tracks were laid and concrete crossing pads set in place at Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Gerard Avenue. The job was part of an overall project to replace 92,700 railroad ties and upgrade 63 crossings between Turlock and Fresno. The $27.8 million project involved 175 people.

Stan Murdock, the city of Merced’s director of public works operations, praised the railroad company for its advance communication with the city. The railroad also upgraded crossings at V, G, R, D, O and M streets.

Murdock said many of the crossing upgrades required just one or two-day closings of the affected intersections. The V Street project, under the jurisdiction of the state Department of Transportation, was a three-day project and created the most traffic congestion, he added.

UP spokesman Aaron Hunt of Roseville said the crossing upgrades are a major infrastructure investment by the company. The crossings are much smoother for motorists and the upgrades mean safety and operating efficiencies for the railroad, he said.

“It’s a win for everybody involved,” Hunt said.

Mike North, a Merced County spokesman, said there are three grade crossing closures south of Merced. A crossing at Ranch Road is due to be upgraded today, followed by similar work at Athlone Road on Monday and at Vista Road on Tuesday.

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