Council OKs $123,450 in emergency railroad approach work

By: Patty McAlpin, Reporter
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Lincoln City Council voted Jan. 22 to spend $123,450 to replace railroad crossing pavement approaches related to a Union Pacific Railroad project to upgrade six crossings in Lincoln in January and February.

 The council declared an emergency to approve spending the money from the streets fund, awarding the job to JD Pasquetti Inc. The Lincoln company offered the lowest bid of six companies competing during an informal process.

“This is a large amount of money to add to our budget at the last minute,” Mayor Stan Nader said. “I am not aware if Union Pacific gave the city an answer as to why they cannot delay their work.”

Union Pacific spokesman Aaron Hunt told the News Messenger, "The city has never expressed any desire for a delay."

City of Lincoln construction manager Ray Leftwich said the city asked Union Pacific to delay the project to allow for a formal bidding process after learning in December that Union Pacific intended to close at-grade railroad crossings here for several days in January.

“If the city does not replace the railroad crossing pavement approaches in coordination with the ongoing Union Pacific project, Union Pacific will not issue right –of-way entry agreement to construct permanent pavement approaches until such time that Union Pacific has another shut down on the rail line through Lincoln because of the significant disruption to their operation,” said Leftwich, who indicated authorization could take six more months. Therefore, the city needed to take action, according to Leftwich.

Leftwich said he was able to negotiate with Union Pacific to arrange a schedule that minimizes impacts to residents and takes into consideration the ability of public safety workers to respond to emergencies.

The crossing closure schedule is:

-          1st and 5th streets close 6 a.m. Jan. 28 and open Feb. 1.

-          6th Street closes 6 a.m. Feb. 4 and opens 6 p.m. Feb. 8.

-          3rd and 7th streets close 6 a.m. Feb. 11 and open 6 p.m. Feb. 15.

-          Ferrari Ranch Road closes 6 a.m. Feb. 19 and opens 6 p.m. Feb. 22.

The city will refurbish the asphalt approach to each crossing. Union Pacific will replace the concrete pads and apply new ballast to ensure a stable roadbed for the railroad tracks immediately adjacent to each crossing.

This maintenance work is expected to give motorists an improved ride across the tracks and help Union Pacific freight trains continue operating safely through the city, Lincoln public information officer Jill Thompson wrote in the city’s e-bulletin.

By consensus, the council, at the request of Councilman Spencer Short, directed city staff to send a letter to Union Pacific asking Union Pacific to give the city six months notice of any capital improvement program relating to the city of Lincoln.

“We have ours (capital improvement program) five years in advance,” Short said.

City Manager Jim Estep said Union Pacific “does tend to do things its own way” in response to a comment by Mayor Nader about communication issues with Union Pacific. Nader said he understood, after talking to Estep, that Union Pacific is a “nation unto its own.”


Are there too many stop signs on Del Webb Boulevard?

Most of the residents addressing the Lincoln City Council Tuesday voiced concerns over motorists taking short cuts on neighborhood streets in Lincoln Hills to avoid stop signs on main roads like Del Webb Boulevard and Sun City Boulevard.

Loren Winckler of Mossy Ridge Lane said his street has become a shortcut.

“I live in the middle of the block,” Winckler said. “Cars are doing 45 miles per hour. I was trimming my mums between 12:48 and 12:56 p.m. and counted 11 cars, two of them speeders, one of those two was a resident of our street. There are too many stop signs on Del Webb Boulevard. They are causing people to take shortcuts.”

Winckler asked the council to evaluate removing four-way stops on the boulevard.

“There are seven signs from Spring Valley (Parkway) to Kilaga Springs (Lodge). Del Webb in Roseville has one stop sign,” Winckler said.

Dennis Gibbon, another neighbor, lives at the lower end of Mossy Ridge Lane.

“My own personal experience is cars come down from Andover and accelerate to Monument,” Gibbons said. “It was before Christmas and I was getting the mail. One of the motorists nearly hit me and gave me the one-finger salute.”

Gibbons said there are six to seven stop signs from just outside Lincoln Hills to his home.

“It takes fuel, extra time and added frustration,” Gibbons said. “Can the city engineer look at the stop signs to see if maybe some signs can come out?”

Bill Castle, another Sun City Lincoln Hills resident, said he will drive one to two miles more around the neighborhood to avoid stop signs. He said he is working with Mark Miller on another sign issue, that of hidden signs in Lincoln Hills. Miller said a homeowner did have a tree cut down because it was blocking a stop sign. 

When Nader asked how many audience members were affected, 10 members stood up.

      Councilman Peter Gilbert, who lives in Lincoln Hills, said there are nine stop signs on the way to his home and that he uses one of the neighborhood streets to avoid a stop sign.

Gilbert asked the council to direct staff “to dust off the study conducted three years ago” about the stop signs in Lincoln Hills, decide which signs could be removed and analyze the cost.

Councilman Paul Joiner said he recalls from the study that the cost to remove a stop sign is $10,000.

“The short-term solution is enforcement,” Joiner said.

Lincoln Interim Police Chief Paul Shelgren said because he only has three police officers in a 24-hour period, the department cannot provide consistent enforcement.  

Public Services Director Mark Miller said he will put an item on the agenda of the next Streets Committee meeting, which takes place at 9 a.m. Monday, Jan. 28, in the First Floor meeting room of Lincoln City Hall, 600 Sixth St.

      In other action, the council waived $295 in encroachment and sign fees related to the Fill the Boot for Burns fundraiser to take place 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 16 and 17 at the intersection of Joiner Parkway and Ferrari Ranch Road. Lincoln Firefighter Corey Leighty, the local event coordinator, made the request.  

      Nader adjourned the meeting in honor of Dave Gordon, a Lincoln resident and regular City Council meeting participant who recently died.