Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Plan seeks to clear Suisun railroad

From Daily Republic // July 26, 2005
By Barry Eberling // Staff Writer

SUISUN CITY -- Passing trains can cause some rush-hour traffic chaos on Sunset Avenue.

Down go the crossing gates over the Union Pacific tracks. Vehicles on Sunset Avenue back up past the nearby northern Railroad Avenue intersection. Meanwhile, drivers are trying to turn between the two streets.

"People tend to do things that sometimes are not entirely safe," interim Community Development Director Gerald Raycraft said.

Suisun City thinks it has the solution: Relocate the Railroad Avenue intersection. It is planning to do this and a series of related projects in phases at a total cost of $6 million.

The Planning Commission is to discuss the environmental study for the project (Tuesday July 27, 2005) [Note: The Commission approved the environmental documents for the project.]

Railroad Avenue is a key Suisun City street. For the most part, it parallels the Union Pacific railroad tracks at the border of Suisun City and Fairfield.

People traveling on Railroad Avenue the length of the city cannot do so withough traversing a short section of Sunset Avenue. They'll hit a T-intersection at Sunset Avenue, then drive along Sunset Avenue to a second T-intersection.

It would be better to have Railroad Avenue simply cross Sunset Avenue at the southern intersection, then jog north along a new alignment, city officials decided. Then that northern T-intersection near the railroad tracks would no longer be needed.

Suisun City also wants to widen Railroad Avenue from the Laurel Creek channel to Humphrey Drive. It wants to delete the Railroad Avenue/East Tabor Avenue intersection and push Railroad Avenue through to Olive Avenue, which leads to East Tabor Avenue.

Finally, it wants to widen sections of Sunset Avenue and Olive Avenue near the railroad tracks.

Suisun City plans to make the improvement in three phases. The $2.5 million to $3 million first phase is realigning Railroad Avenue at Sunset Avenue. No construction is planned for this year.

Suisun City received several letters commenting on the project environmental study.

The state Department of Fish and Game noted there is potential for the protected vernal pool fairy shrimp and alkali milk vetch plant to exist in the area. These species are associated with vernal pools.

A vernal pool exists south of Railroad Avenue near Blossom Avenue, the city responded. The first option is to avoid the pool. If that's not possible, the city could preserve wetlands elsewhere.

Some property owners have expressed concern about how the realignment will effect their land.

Suisun City has planned the realignment of Railroad Avenue since 1996.

Reach Barry Eberling at beberling@dailyrepublic.net.

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