If you mention railroads in Albany, the reaction you get most likely is a complaint about the grade crossing on Queen Avenue. So here’s another update on how much longer you and your vehicle can expect to endure the bumpy ride across those tracks.
For years the Albany council, city officials and ODOT have talked about upgrading the crossing, which would include work by the Union Pacific to smooth out the uneven surface between the rails. So when is it going to happen?
For the latest we go, as usual, to Ron Irish, whose job title of city transportation systems analyst doesn’t cover half of what he knows about Albany streets.
The Queen Avenue crossing project, he told me, is in ODOT’s 2018-2021 STIP (or Statewide Transportation Improvement Program) and has an estimated cost of $1,320,000. That’s just for improvements to the rail warning devices at the crossing.
Union Pacific is planning on replacing the four-track crossing at the same time, and that cost is not reflected in the STIP. The city will also be resurfacing Queen between Pacific Boulevard (99E) and Geary Street at about the same time as the ODOT project. “We’re still working with ODOT to coordinate project schedules.”
Irish says the design work for the ODOT project is under way now. A small amount of right of way will need to be acquired for sidewalk improvements, and that is scheduled for 2020. And then, wait for it, the warning device improvements and the Union Pacific work on the crossing itself are on the schedule for 2021.
So, at least another two years of bumpy rides.
As everybody knows, motorists at that crossing also face the strong likelihood of delays because of train-building in the yard. That combined with the shaking when you do go across provides a strong rationale for taking another route. (hh)