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Fire district asks for help

Loomis first responders will be helped by Penryn crews when crossings are closed
By: Laura O’Brien Gold Country News Service Correspondent
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The Loomis Fire District has asked for support with emergency response on the west side of town when railroad repair work begins in 2012. Railroad crossings could be closed up to seven hours per day as part of the Union Pacific track upgrade project, company representatives said. The project is now scheduled to begin in Loomis after the first of the year. Penryn work is slated to begin Dec. 19, and continue through early January. “I’m pretty confident that it’s not going to be as large an impact as we first feared,” said Town Manager Rick Angelocci. The track upgrade project began in Auburn last weekend and replaces existing rail and railroad ties. New rail will be installed in quarter-mile segments. Angelocci said crews may need to return to complete work at the crossings after the new track is installed. “The total amount of work time may be spread over several days,” he said. Loomis Fire District Chief Dave Wheeler said Penryn Fire District will respond to medical calls from the west side of the train tracks if the King Road and Webb Road crossings are closed at the same time. Wheeler said Loomis fire crews also will respond to those calls. An unstaffed fire truck will be parked on the west side of the tracks and Loomis firemen will cross the tracks on foot. “We’re looking at just a six-hour window (for simultaneous closures) and this would be the condition during that six-hour window,” Wheeler said. He said his crews could access the west side of town via the Sierra College Boulevard crossing, but that route adds five minutes to response times. “Our druthers are to, of course, get there faster,” he added. “We’ve been assured that once the initial track replacement is done, we’ll be able to cross at least one of those crossings, either King or Webb, with emergency vehicles,” Wheeler said. Exact timing of the closures of each of the crossings in Penryn and Loomis will depend upon the progress of the work north of Loomis. Liisa Stark, Union Pacific public affairs director for northern California, said corporate representatives arrived in the area last Friday. There was no updated timetable for work at the Loomis crossings as of press time. Angelocci said signs will be posted indicating the dates and times of the closures two weeks in advance. The traffic safety firm RoadSafe is in charge of erecting the signs. Angelocci requested that the signs incorporate flashing lights one week prior to closures. Discussion of the Union Pacific track upgrade project was added as a time-certain item to the Dec. 13 Town Council agenda. The item is scheduled for 7:45 p.m. Mayor Pro-Tem Sandra Calvert will be sworn in as Mayor at the meeting.