|Yolo County, in partnership with the City of Davis, applied for Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) Community Design Funding for the project known as County Road (CR) 32A Railroad Crossing Relocation Project Study Report-Project Development Support (Project). The City of Davis and Yolo County each received a $100,000 grant ($200,000 total) for the preparation of a Project Study Report-Project Development Support (PSR-PDS) to establish alternatives and a preferred option for replacing the CR 32A Railroad Crossing with a new crossing within two miles east of the CR 32A Railroad Crossing. On October 8, 2019, the Board of Supervisors approved an Engineering Services Agreement with T.Y. Lin International for the project.
Preparation of the PSR-PDS follows a community-based effort to preserve a crossing of CR 32A over the Union Pacific Railroad Company (UPRR) tracks east of the City of Davis at County Road 105. Due to a history of accidents at the existing crossing, and despite the implementation of many safety counter measures, UPRR requested that the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) authorize the closure of this crossing. In negotiations with stakeholders, including SACOG, City of Davis, Yolo County Farm Bureau, Bike Davis, CPUC, and Yolo County, UPRR consented to consider a relocation of the crossing rather than closure. This agreement was memorialized in a Memorandum of Understanding between these stakeholders in 2018 (Agreement No. 18-122), and the parties agreed to the following course of action in Section 2 of the agreement:
"2.1 The County will conduct a preliminary review of environmental, engineering, safety, and cost considerations for replacing the Crossing with a new crossing within two miles east of the Crossing. The County will use best efforts to complete its preliminary review within 12 to 18 months after the execution of this MOU. UPRR will provide technical assistance as warranted.
2.2 The parties will coordinate to identify and pursue funding opportunities for a project to construct the new crossing described in Section 2.1. The parties may contribute funding, staff time, or other in-kind resources to help prepare competitive applications for local, state, and federal funding.
2.3 The parties understand that this is a multi-year process. Any potential final project may have to be tailored to available funding opportunities. If the parties elect to pursue a new crossing, the terms related to the project will be memorialized in subsequent agreements between or among relevant parties before construction begins."
This Project’s approximate two-year effort, which involved significant coordination between the major stakeholders (UPRR, CPUC, Caltrans, the City of Davis, the Farm Bureau, Bike Davis, and Yolo County) and the public, has culminated in the attached final version of T.Y. Lin International’s report entitled, “Final Project Study Report to Evaluate Potential Build Alternatives and Determine a Preferred Alternative for Replacing and Relocating the County Road (CR) 32A Railroad Crossing with a New Crossing (report).”
The preferred crossing relocation version receiving the greatest stakeholder support, and also receiving the highest evaluation score, was Alternative 8: a grade-separated crossing with road realignment over one mile east of County Road 105. While more expensive, this alternative was fashioned out of stakeholder team and public meeting feedback, containing the benefits of the grade-separated crossing alternatives, and some of the positives from the at-grade crossing options being considered. Some of the key benefits of this option include: elimination of the existing at-grade railroad/roadway intersection conflict, and the slower 40-mph design speed for the realigned CR 32A roadway in the vicinity of the proposed bridge crossing over the tracks. In addition to gaining the most support, this option is also the most expensive relocation alternative and may present a challenge to obtain full grant funding.
Alternative 1 is also a grade-separated crossing that is estimated to be a slightly less costly alternative. However, mostly due to Alternative 1 higher design speed at 50-mph, and the added benefits of, and consensus surrounding Alternative 8, this alternative was not chosen as the preferred alternative.
The report presented the 5-year escalated capital cost for completion of the project to be approximately $32 million for Alternative 8. With the inclusion of expected staff project development, design engineering, environmental, right-of-way, and construction engineering phase labor costs, the likely 5-year escalated capital cost total is likely closer to $35 million.
The City of Davis City Council is tentatively scheduled to receive this report at its Council Meeting on November 2, 2021 and is expected to adopt a resolution supporting all four of the alternatives being considered in the report.
To follow through with avoidance of CPUC closure of the existing CR 32A railroad crossing at CR 105, County staff recommends pursuit of available funding opportunities for design, environmental, right-of-way acquisition, and construction of the preferred Alternative No. 8 to relocate the crossing. No specific funding source has been identified, but some potential funding sources (with local match likely required) include the United States Department of Transportation's Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Program and Railroad Crossing Elimination Program, the CPUC Section 190 Program, and SACOG Regional Funding programs.
One of the tasks in T.Y. Lin International’s (T.Y. Lin) service agreement with Yolo County includes, as there is available budget and time, contemplation of a funding strategy, advocacy, and the development and submission of funding applications. Pending the Board’s direction on the preferred alternative, T.Y. Lin will continue these efforts with the remaining contract budget until agreement expiration. If additional effort is necessary, staff will continue the efforts or contemplate securing consultant assistance if the effort is complex and resource challenging for available staff.
The engineering and environmental phases of the project are estimated to take approximately two years to complete, with the right-of-way phase taking an additional two years to complete. Final design, permitting and construction would follow, likely needing two construction seasons to complete the project. Staff estimates that securing funding for the engineering and environmental phases will take at least one year given current grant award cycles, leading to a possible construction start date in 2026. This is a very optimistic timeframe and project delays should be anticipated on the order of one to three years given the environmental constraints, utility conflicts and right-of-way requirements.