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Manteca looking for ways to ease impacts of trains through city jumping to 135 daily
san  gabiel trench
Manteca can hear the trains coming.
Based on planned expansion at the Union Pacific Railroad intermodal facility sandwiched between Lathrop and Manteca that places truck trailers off and on especially designed flatcars for long distance hauling,  there will be up to 83 more trains coming through Manteca on two rail corridors — one that runs along the western city limits and the other that slices through Manteca at a diagonal.
On the line cutting Manteca in half, train traffic — including Altamont Corridor Express trains that will start running to and from Ceres in 2023 — will triple from an average of 20 a day to 60. That is the equivalent of a train on average every 24 minutes as opposed to the current average of once every hour and 12 minutes.
Union Pacific trains that can be as long as 8,000 feet are the bane of virtually of every motorist trying to cross Manteca will end up compounding current traffic issues. The situation is made worse by the fact Manteca is growing at 3.4 percent making it one of the fastest growing cities in California. That means vehicle traffic as well as train traffic will increase.
The City Council last week decided they want to see what the options are in terms of separated crossings, rough costs, and funding sources.
They instructed staff to return within 30 days with a request for proposals so the city can enlist a firm with expertise in addressing rail separation issues.
Possible alternatives range from building overpasses and underpasses to creating a trench to drop the train tracks 30 plus feet below ground level and then bridge the trench with bridges for roads.
The city has dismissed the idea of pursuing wayside horns for the expressed purpose of reducing train horn noise after finding out that engineers who have the option to blast horns at such crossings often do so especially in areas where they are passing through communities at high speeds.
Several council members noted spending money on wayside horns would have limited success at reducing noises.
Expansion plans for the Union Pacific Railroad intermodal truck-to-train facility sandwiched between Manteca and Lathrop will increase container truck traffic by 83 percent at completion. That will have a corresponding increase in train traffic through Manteca from 52 a day now to 135 if the intermodal facility is eventually maxed out.
Manteca has 14 crossings within the city limits that will be impacted by the increased intermodal movement — three on the Oakland line that also is used for Altamont Corridor Express commuter trains and 11 on the Fresno line. One of those 11 crossings — Austin Road — will be replaced with an overcrossing in the first phase of the Highway 99/120 Bypass interchange upgrade project breaking ground in 2022.
Union Pacific expects the Oakland line — that impacts the Louise Avenue, Yosemite Avenue, and McKinley Avenue crossings — to see train movements go from 32 today to 75 or a 120 percent increase that also includes ACE trains going from 8 to 10 a day.
The biggest impact, however, is on the Fresno line that slices Manteca in half. The current daily train census will triple going from 20 trains a day to 60 including six ACE trains.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email