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Blocker Drive railroad crossing opens ahead of schedule

Most bus routes return to normal stops
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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The railroad crossing at Blocker Drive in Auburn reopened Thursday afternoon ahead of schedule, but some residents say planning for the closure could have happened sooner. The intersection is the only entrance and exit for residents of the Hidden Creek Neighborhood. Bob Dasaro, a resident of the neighborhood, said there was minimal time for the city to come up with a plan for how they would get in and out once Union Pacific Railroad notified them of the need to close the crossing. “I think in hindsight what they ought to do is kind of rework the planning phase of this, so instead of notifying our neighborhood on a Thursday before the work starts on Tuesday, they should have planned all this stuff out,” Dasaro said. Eventually, a gravel and wood crossing was built at a different location across the tracks, he said. That solution came Monday night, though he said, just one day before the start of the closure. “I am sitting here as a resident wondering how much time they had to prepare,” Dasaro said. Liisa Lambert Stark, director of public affairs for Union Pacific Railroad, said it’s the railroad’s policy to give cities five days notice. She said the replacements made at Blocker Drive are critical to maintaining the tracks. “We were replacing panels and a switch at that location. It is part of upgrading and maintaining our railroad infrastructure,” Lambert Stark said. “Obviously for public safety, and so the crews could get the work done, that necessitated the closing of the crossing.” Lambert Stark said residents could expect unfettered access beginning Wednesday afternoon, although a few brief closures will occur sometime around March 19. A five day notice will also be given before that work occurs. “We are hoping to minimize delays to maybe half an hour at a time for a very short period,” Lambert Stark said. “It will be one, two or three times.” Despite some delays for residents, Bernie Schroeder, City of Auburn public works director, said they serve an overall safety purpose that is worth any inconveniences. “We are probably not going to see them in our town again for several, several decades,” Schroeder said. “It seems really like a big deal, but in a sense it’s not a lot to contend with for the benefits down the road.” She said the city also planned with fire and law enforcement for how emergency crews would get through without delays. Several bus systems will be back to their normal stops. “Auburn Transit and Placer County, with the exception of their commuter bus, are all back to doing their transfers at the multimodal station at Auburn,” Schroeder said. “Given the fact that Union Pacific has completed that work, we are very pleased to see we can get back to business. They really kept the line of communication open.” Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com.