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Bigger UP yards means less time trains block tracks

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POSTED October 31, 2012 12:38 a.m.

The time each train moving into the Union Pacific Railroad intermodal yard will block Roth Road will be reduced significantly as part of the facility’s expansion.

That’s because plans call for expansion of one working track with 5,800 feet and three parallel working to five support tracks and five working tracks from 7,000 to 8,000 feet of interrupted length. That means no new crossings will be needed over local roads.

Currently, trains longer than 5,800 feet are handled in two or three sections to squeeze them onto working tracks. That requires multiple switching movements across Roth Road which in turn blocks traffic.  The expansion will allow trains 8,000 feet or less to be loaded and unloaded in one sequence. That will reduce blockage of the crossing plus internal movements of cranes and hostlers - smaller workhorse engine used for switching - and other equipment to cut energy consumption and save time.

The impact on Roth Road is part of the environmental impact report for the project. The EIR and use permit application for the project are before the San Joaquin County Planning Commission on Thursday, Nov. 1, at 6:30 p.m. The commission meets in the auditorium at the San Joaquin County Department of Public Health Services, 1601 E. Hazelton Ave., Stockton.

The plan is to modernize the intermodal facility that was built in 1993 on 132 acres as well as to expand onto adjoining 154 acres sandwiched between the city limits of Manteca and Lathrop west of Airport Way and between Lathrop Road and Roth Road. The expansion would occur in two phases over the next 10 years.

The facility transfers cargo containers from trucks to rail - and vice versa - of agricultural commodities and other products.

The current capacity will be expanded from 270,000 cargo container transfers a year to 730,000 annually. That peak isn’t expected to be obtained until after 2035 based on railroad projections.

There are already 1,994 container bays. An additional 1,901 container bays will be added. That means at any given time there could be 3,895 cargo containers on site.

UP now has 67 workers at the intermodal site and ultimately will employ 137.

 The expansion of the Lathrop Intermodal operation - spurred in part by a decision by UP to shift truck traffic away from the Port of Oakland - would bring the average daily truck trips from 954 today to 2,186 at complete build-out. It would mean the average number of trucks per hour leaving or departing the intermodal facility via Roth Road would go from 39.75 every hour to 91. Weekend traffic is 5 to 10 percent of work day traffic

To reduce congestion and to address air quality concerns, the project will replace nine manual gates with 10 automatic gates. That will allow for a quicker flow of trucks into the facility to reduce idling time.

The entrance would be moved farther back from Roth Road to accommodate more trucks. Additional turn lanes will also be constructed on Roth Road.

An indirect access road to Lathrop Road will be made for employee traffic only. No cargo will leave - or access - the UP intermodal facility using Lathrop Road.

The expansion is critical to the creation of 600 permanent jobs to the local economy in conjunction with an adjoining business park project piggy backing on the expansion. CenterPoint, within the city limits, is expected to attract firms to four million square feet of distribution style buildings they will construct that seek optimum locations next to intermodal facilities.

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