11th Street overpass reconstruction back on track
by Glenn Moore
Nov 28, 2013 | 4533 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bridge replacement on track
Traffic heads east out of town over the 11th Street overpass Tuesday, Nov. 26. Demolition and reconstruction of the overpass is expected to begin in September.  Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
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Plans to replace a 1930s-era overpass at the eastern edge of Tracy are back on track after negotiations between the city and Union Pacific Railroad resolved a rail and right-of-way issue.

The $40 million replacement of the 77-year-old 11th Street overpass is expected to take two years to complete. Most of the cost of replacing the steel girder structure will be covered by federal funding, and the city will pay a $1.75 million share.

At the regular meeting of the City Council on Nov. 19, city engineer Kuldeep Sharma presented right-of-way agreements with the railroad company and two other nearby properties for the council’s approval.

Completed in 1936 at a cost of $233,256, the overpass was widened in 1960 to 64 feet with sidewalks and two lanes in each direction.

A city staff report states that California Department of Transportation — which is responsible for yearly inspections — found it “structurally deficient” in 2004 and placed it on a list for seismic retrofit.

Sharma said plans to repair the overpass began in 2007.

“We started working on the project, looked into it in much more detail. We looked at the deck and the joints. Everything was crumbling,” Sharma said. “We went back to Caltrans and said the seismic retrofit only improves a portion, the deck itself was not good.”

In 2009, Caltrans put the overpass in a mandatory replacement program due to its deteriorating condition.

When the city approached Union Pacific Railroad for a highway easement to build a new bridge over the tracks, railroad officials said they wanted to add two rail lines to the three that run underneath the overpass.

To accomplish that, according to Sharma, the city drew up plans to widen the structure to 89 feet, adding bike lanes and broader sidewalks.

But the agreement with Union Pacific Railroad ran into trouble in February, Sharma said, when the railroad company asked for more room to add a third new track.

Sharma said that would require new designs for the overpass, costing the city more than $7 million.

The two parties argued over the additional rail line for several months.

“When we coordinated with Union Pacific Railroad, we did tell them: Caltrans had initially asked for seismic retrofitting and now we don’t have the funding. We will go back to the existing retrofitting and you don’t get anything,” Sharma said.

Sharma said the railroad agreed in October to abide by the original design, and the City Council accepted the right-of-way agreements at the Nov. 19 meeting.

“It was a tough task, but the only option the city has is go back and fix the bridge and make it safe,” Sharma said.

The city will pay the railroad $587,387 for the highway easement, a 24-month construction easement and inspection services, including coordinating train movements.

Union Pacific Railroad spokesman Aaron Hunt said in a prepared statement: “The additional line of track under the bridge in Tracy will allow us to continue offering excellent service to our current and future customers in California. The state of California is a crucial part of our business. We serve numerous customers in the state and play a critical role in the transportation infrastructure in the state.” 

Sharma said the city will likely advertise for bids in July and approve a construction contract in September.

He estimated that it will take two years to demolish the bridge and build the replacement.

A detour route will be built just south of the existing overpass, using a prefabricated bridge over the railroad tracks.

An embankment-style overpass was chosen as the most cost-effective design. Sharma said the embankment will prevent what he described as “nuisance pockets” under the roadway. Stepped walls and landscaping are planned to deter graffiti.

Sharma said the design of the overpass also allows for the eventual realignment of MacArthur Drive.

North MacArthur Drive dead-ends at 11th Street near the overpass, and South MacArthur Drive intersects with 11th a short distance to the west.

The long-range plan is for north and south MacArthur to meet at the apex of the overpass, Sharma said.

Pedestrian viewing platforms will be connection points for the realigned road, and wide bike lanes will become turn lanes.

Sharma said the MacArthur Drive realignment could be 10 years down the road, depending on the rate of residential development and the city’s annexation of land near the overpass.

• Contact Glenn Moore at 830-4252 or gmoore@tracypress.com.



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