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Info meeting set for Lathrop Road bridge

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POSTED January 21, 2014 1:38 a.m.

LATHROP – It has a long and fairly technical name.

The Lathrop Road/Union Pacific Railroad Westerly Grade Separation.

But the idea behind the work, which started back in October, is fairly simple – create a crossing over the heavily used and at times blocked railroad that create a chokepoint along a major growth route between Manteca and Lathrop.

On Wednesday the multi-agency team that’s overseeing the construction – including the City of Lathrop, the San Joaquin Council of Governments and construction management firm Vali Cooper and Associates – will be hosting another public information meeting intended to outline key characteristics and what motorists and residents can expect.

The $13.3 million project is being funded by California’s Proposition 1B funds, San Joaquin County’s Measure K half-cent transportation sales-tax increase and Union Pacific Railroad improvement funds.

Once completed, the Lathrop Road corridor will essentially be an expressway for motorists and truckers and will provide a straight through route from Highway 99 to Interstate 5 that will be devoid of any train crossings.

A similar overpass was built with the same funding mechanisms further east several years ago.

But building a flyover of  some of the heavily-utilized railroad tracks in the area isn’t exactly the easiest undertaking. The first thing that the city had to do was work with Union Pacific on easement issues and right-of-way acquisitions, and then jump through all of the bureaucratic red tape that comes with it. Acquiring said property through the eminent domain process was another challenge. And doing it all up against a parcel of federal land – the Defense Distribution Depot San Joaquin – only added another hoop.

The city had to construct a new perimeter road and fence for the Sharpe Depot in order to accommodate the new Lathrop Road alignment, and access to the surface street and neighboring houses was also factored into the equitation.

The project is currently in its second phase as the framework for the bridge is built up on both sides of the tracks. Traffic will continue to flow along Lathrop Road until the work is complete. Flows at the intersections of Woodfield Drive and McKinley Avenue may end up being shut down for a period of time while they’re readjusted.

A total of 172 piles will be driven to support the bridge, and 645,000 pounds of reinforced steel will support the structure. Nearly 2,600 cubic yards of concrete will be needed.

The public information meeting will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 22, from 6:30 to 8 pm. At the Lathrop Senior Center, located at 15557 Fifth Street.

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