A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Work at Queen crossing: Perhaps in 2022

Written September 23rd, 2019 by Hasso Hering

Vehicles bump their way across the four tracks at the Queen Avenue rail crossing on Monday.

The date for rebuilding and smoothing out the Queen Avenue railroad crossing in Albany keeps getting pushed back. That’s what emerged from an update the city council received on Monday.

As recently as April, both the installation of new crossing protection and rebuilding the pavement between the rails were scheduled in 2021. Now it appears it will be the fall of 2021 when ODOT opens of bids for installing the new crossing arms and other safety improvements. That means the construction probably won’t happen until 2022.

ODOT is planning to replace the crossing arms that span half the width of the street with “quad gates” that cover the entire width, from both sides. That’s to prevent fatalities that happen when someone goes around the still-down crosing gate thinking the track is clear because the switch engine has passed, and then gets clobbbered by a train moving on the main line.

Transportation system analyst Ron Irish briefed the council Monday on the latest schedule. He also asked whether the city staff should initiate a request to establish a quiet zone at the Queen Avenue crossing. The council consensus was to wait to pursue that idea until the improvements are in place.

A quiet zone, possible only if quad gates are installed, would require the consent of ODOT, the two railroads using the crossing, and the Federal Railroad Administration. Once the zone is established, freights and passenger trains could go through without sounding their horn. But as Irish understands it, switching operations would still require at least some use of the horn as a signal to workers in the yard.

Long story short: It’s probably three years before the notoriously bumpy crossing is made smooth, and longer before there’s a quiet zone, if the council tries at all. (hh)

9 responses to “Work at Queen crossing: Perhaps in 2022”

  1. J. Jacobson says:

    This project seems more complex than NASA’s attempt to get back to the moon. Perhaps Albany needs to throw more money at the problem.

  2. Jeff Senders says:

    Better late than never.
    I drive a car that’s low to the ground, so I have to cross the tracks really slow, which invites getting rear-ended almost every time. Even though I make sure I’m in the right hand lane, it doesn’t seem to matter. I can see the eyeballs of the person behind me in the rear view mirror. “fingers” too!

  3. Jim Engel says:

    Nothing but nothing will ever be done until “we” get rid of that late 1800’s notion of land grants. Those R/R thugs that benefited from said land grants perpetuate the notion that we are “crossing” their right of way & have the ability to do nothing! They have never provided the USofA with an adequate passenger system that was part of the land grant requirements.

  4. Albany YIMBY says:

    God knows I’m against facilitating things for cars, but in this case it would be sooo much cheaper and safer in the long run just to make a simple underpass.

  5. Ray Kopczynski says:

    “…it would be sooo much cheaper…”

    Cheaper than installing the “quad gates?” You’ve got to be kidding! An underpass is not “simple” by any definition…

    • Albany YIMBY says:

      In the long run!

      No more wasted time waiting. No need for signaling and barriers, no need for trains to maneuver. Our time costs money too.

      • centrist says:

        Unless you’re “on the clock”, time has no monetary value.
        Some folks have stated that they lost XX precious minutes and that they’ll never get it back. Truth is no one owns time. It is simply a way to gauge passage

  6. centrist says:

    Let’s think about the underpass concept.
    Purpose — separate rail traffic from vehicle traffic.
    Option 1 — elevate rails above existing roadway. Likely have to raise the switchyard as well. I wouldn’t consider this as feasible.
    Option 2. — sink the roadway below the rails. The beginning of the cut would begin well west of 99, say by Reid Vet. Need a bridge for 99 and for the rails. More than a few underground utilities to relocate. Sort out how to manage traffic for the streets east of the rails. Technically possible, but not likely affordable, even if there’s a solution to keeping the lowpoint drained.

    • Albany YIMBY says:

      I disagree that you need to get West of 99. Starting the ramp right at the beginning of Queen will make it.


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