The city has filed an administrative complaint with the state Public Utilities Commission in an attempt to force Southern Pacific Railroad to either raise or lower tracks that now cross city streets. The action falls short of the damage suit city officials threatened last month, when seven cars from a Southern Pacific freight train derailed near City Hall. No one was injured in the accident, but a city-ordered evacuation caused about 50 business to close for a day and suffer an estimated $350,000 in lost sales.
For years, the city has wanted the railroad to install "grade separation" tunnels or overpasses so that lengthy trains to and from the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles wouldn't impede street traffic. A previous Superior Court suit against Southern Pacific was dismissed on procedural grounds. So city legal officials decided this time to approach the PUC, which has the authority to regulate railroad crossings, a city official said.