Oceanside chugs along with railroad safety improvements

Oceanside chugs along with railroad safety improvements
Oceanside is set to have a railroad quiet zone by the end of 2018. The quiet zone comes before the number of train trips through the city doubles in 2020. File photo by Promise Yee

OCEANSIDE — It is not visible to the public, but important engineering work for safety improvements to five railroad crossings is wrapping up, and moving Oceanside closer to being the first North County city with a quiet zone.

There are 65 daily train trips passing through Oceanside. A quiet zone is coming before rail line double tracking is finished in 2020, and that number doubles.

Completion of engineering work by RailPros Inc. allows the city to put out a call for project construction bids by the end of the year.

Crossings at Surfrider Way, Mission Avenue, Wisconsin Street, Oceanside Boulevard and Cassidy Street will see improvements that allow trains to pass through without sounding their horns.

Construction of pedestrian gates, fencing, drainage, landscaping, installation of interconnected traffic signals, and upgrades to warning devices are expected to begin in mid 2017 and be completed in a year.

“The majority of work is signaling communication between lines and traffic signal gates,” Gary Kellison, city senior civil engineer, said.

Next year’s construction will take advantage of weekends when the commuter train is not running. Since the project does not involve replacing tracks, no interruption in train service is expected. Road work will be accommodated with the closure of one lane of traffic as needed.

An additional $300,300 was approved by City Council in late June to retain RailPros for design work and consultation through the end of the project. The total amount paid to the engineering company is $942,800.

Construction work will be funded by a state grant, TransNet funds and a commercial loan.

The city was awarded a $999,000 California Department of Transportation safety improvement grant, which will cover costs of all needed improvements to the busy Mission Avenue crossing.

The four other crossings will be funded through a combination of $5.7 million in awarded TransNet funds, and a short-term loan against future TransNet revenues, which are provided by the half-cent sales tax. A 2.5 percent loan of up to $5 million will be taken out once construction begins, and be paid off in five years.

Once finished, work will be reviewed by the Federal Railroad Administration and the five crossings will be classified as a quiet zone. Oceanside is expected to have a quiet zone in place by the end of 2018.

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