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Study Shows Lowering Tracks at Orangethorpe Is Feasible

June 16, 1998|DEBRA CANO

Lowering railroad tracks along Orangethorpe Avenue is not only physically possible, but cost-effective compared with other alternatives, according to a city-sponsored study.

The City Council today will consider whether to pursue a plan to lower the railway on a five-mile stretch between Lakeview and Placentia avenues, eliminating the need for overpasses or underpasses.

Last December, the city hired Management Facilitators Inc. of Bermuda Dunes for $54,000 to study the possibility of lowering the railway.

The study is only an initial step in what could be 10 or more years of work to fund and construct a railroad lowering project, Public Works Director Christopher Becker said.

Nine city streets cross the tracks along the Orangethorpe railroad corridor, and officials expect rail traffic will double in the next 20 years, resulting in a 170% increase in motorist delay at the crossings.

Council members have sharply opposed a study by county transportation and railroad officials calling for overpasses or underpasses at the crossings, which would require condemning residential and business parcels.

"We don't see why the economic benefit to the railroad has to be done to the detriment of our city," Becker said.

A preliminary cost estimate of lowering the railway--or placing the tracks in a trench similar to a tunnel with an open top--is $312 million, Becker said. The cost is $56 million more to lower the tracks than to build overpasses or underpasses at the nine crossings.

But the benefit of the lowered railroad alternative is that trains and motorists would be separated at all of the city's crossings, Becker said.

The lowering plan also provides other benefits, including eliminating long delays for motorists at crossings and significantly reducing train noise, according to the city's study.

The railroad lowering plan also would increase safety for both pedestrians and motorists, improve emergency response times and maintain the city's economic base along the corridor.

A study session on the issue will be at 5:30 p.m. The council will consider the matter at 7:30 p.m. Information: (714) 993-8231.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Rail Proposal

Placentia City Council will vote today on whether to pursue a plan to lower the railroad tracks along Orangethorpe, instead of building overpasses or underpasses.

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