Merced G Street Underpass Concerns

October 21, 2008 9:32:50 PM PDT
The city of Merced is asking for the public's input on a railroad underpass project that will have a major impact on traffic.Right now, vehicles on "G" Street stop for all trains. The underpass will be built to alleviate what is often a traffic nightmare.

But the construction process could cause some problems of its own.

G Street is one of Merced's three main thoroughfares. The city is now considering either shutting this section down altogether during construction ... or buying some of surrounding land to build a bypass. It's a decision that may come down to cost versus convenience.

The dangerous delays for emergency vehicles and annoying lines for drivers will soon be a thing of the past at this G Street railroad crossing. The city of Merced has secured nine million dollars in state funding to help build an underpass that will keep traffic flowing when up to 70 trains a day travel these tracks. But now the question is which of two options is best for the building phase.

City of Merced Spokesperson Mike Conway said, "One of them would be shutting down G Street and just continuing with the construction. The other would be building a detour lane right where we're standing that would allow traffic to move during much of the construction phase."

Dan Heitman says shutting down G Street for at least a year would not only cause congestion on parallel streets, but also be bad for nearby businesses.

Dan Heitman said, "It's going to be harder to get here, harder to access, with less traffic people won't see the signs, and we just won't have as many people coming by, and our business has to do with our location."

But creating a two lane detour would cost the city an additional two to three million dollars and delay the project by about six months. Carolyn Goings has lived in this nearby neighborhood for more than 30 years and says the bypass is a bad idea.

Carolyn Goings said, "I do think it would be best if they just closed G Street and gave the workers a chance to do the job quicker, and also save us quite a bit of money."

The city has mailed out 900 letters to residents in the area and is inviting everyone in the community to attend a meeting Thursday night at 6:00 p.m. in the Civic Center's Sam Pipes room.

The council is set to vote on the issue November 3rd.

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