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UP looks at overpass option
Roth Road bridge part of environmental study
A cargo trailer is being “lifted” from a railroad flatbed to a truck trailer. - photo by Photo Contributed
Union Pacific Railroad is willing to explore the possibility of participating in an effort to build an overpass on Roth Road over the UP main line as part of its expansion plans for the Lathrop intermodal facility.

The firm being hired to conduct the $500,000 environmental impact report for the project will explore the Roth Road overpass and discuss it as a project alternative as a collaborative effort between UP, the state, and local agencies.

It doesn’t mean, however, that UP is agreeing to fund any cost of such an overpass.

And as far as the EIR process itself is concerned, UP doesn’t believe it has to conform with any of the California Environmental Quality Act requirements for the proposed expansion since it is a federally chartered railroad operation. The railroad has made it clear it is cooperating with San Joaquin County to conduct an EIR and applying for a use permit but it is doing so “with a reservation of rights.”

San Joaquin County is hiring the consultant to perform the EIR study while the railroad is paying for it. The intermodal terminal is on county land wedged between Manteca and Lathrop.

The request for proposals for the EIR noted that the two-phased expansion of the facility west of the UP tracks that run west of Airport Way that is sandwiched between Roth Road and Lathrop Road will involve developing 142.5 acres to the south and east of the existing facility. The complete facility will cover 277 acres.

The average daily truck trips would go 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 would go from 39.75 every hour to 91. Weekend traffic is 5 to 10 percent of work day traffic.

Monday would be the heaviest day for truck movement at build-out with 2,585 trips compared to 1,056 today.

Currently the intermodal facility can “lift” - remove and place truck trailers on specially designed railroad flat cars - some 270,000 container a year. At build-out that number will reach 730,000 lifts.

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.

UP now has 67 workers at the site and ultimately will employ 137. 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 number of storm retention ponds would go from four to seven to accommodate the run-off from paving over 184 additional acres with asphalt. Currently there are 86 acres of pavement for container parking and truck movements.

It also includes an internal road to cross the tracks to the proposed Center Point Business Park to allow goods to be moved between the two points without having to use public roads.

UP spokesmen point out that the facility expansion ultimately will reduce truck traffic on major freeways as one freight train moving trailer containers does the work of 280 long-distance trucks.

The expansion would take three years but it may take longer to reach capacity depending upon market conditions.