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Current Council Agenda and Past Meeting Information

CITY COUNCIL AGENDA ITEM NO. 5

Meeting Date: September 23, 2008

Subject/Title: Authorize the Mayor and Vice Mayor to represent the City in regional discussions with elected officials and Union Pacific representatives regarding the future activation of the Mococo line and to work with staff on efforts to secure funding for Brentwood’s corridor improvements

Submitted by: Linda Maurer, Economic Development Manager

Approved by: Casey McCann, Community Development Director

RECOMMENDATION
Authorize the Mayor and Vice Mayor to represent the City in regional discussions with elected officials and Union Pacific representatives regarding the future activation of the Mococo line and to work with staff on efforts to secure funding for Brentwood’s corridor improvements.

PREVIOUS ACTION
None

BACKGROUND
In July 2008, City staff and the Mayor attended a meeting with Wesley Lujan, director of public affairs for Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR). Mr. Lujan requested the meeting to advise the City of Union Pacific’s intent to reactivate the Mococo rail line - the railroad tracks that run through Brentwood.

Mr. Lujan provided the City with a general overview of UPRR’s current plan. It is their general intention to begin freight transportation on the Mococo line, which extends from Tracy to Martinez, in the next 18-24 months. The number of trains expected to utilize the tracks may vary greatly, from as little as five to as many as 40 trains per day, depending on freight demand. Mr. Lujan also indicated that they believe the rail line segment running through Brentwood is in good condition, requiring little, if any, construction work before beginning operation.

However, other representatives from UPRR have indicated in the past that a significant amount of work might be required to bring the rail line up to appropriate standards. In fact, as part of UPRR’s 1996 merger with Southern Pacific, the parties had agreed to invest some $21 million into track improvements. A 2004 report from the Federal Trade Commission revealed that UPRR had diverted those funds to other key projects. UPRR claimed that the Mococo line did not need to be upgraded because a nearby UPRR line could be used and because of a change in traffic patterns.

There are five current rail crossings in the city of Brentwood:

1. Balfour Road, just west of Brentwood Boulevard
2. Oak Street, between Walnut Boulevard and Brentwood Boulevard
3. Central Avenue, between Walnut Boulevard and O’Hara Avenue
4. Sand Creek Road, between Minnesota Avenue and O’Hara Avenue
5. Lone Tree Way, between Fairview Avenue and Gann Street

In addition, the City has identified one future crossing at Grant Street, between O’Hara Avenue and Minnesota Avenue.

According to UPRR, all of these crossings are at-grade and meet all of the current safety standards. Each of the five crossings in Brentwood is equipped with crossing arms and standard warning signs, equipment and markings. The most recently upgraded at-grade crossing is located on Sand Creek Road. Funding for these improvements was provided by the City of Brentwood to UPRR, who installs the safety improvements.

While staff and the Mayor expressed concern to Union Pacific regarding the activation of the line and its impacts on the City, local jurisdictions have little to no regulatory authority over the activities of the railroad. Rather, communities like Brentwood can only request that UPRR mitigate the impacts of freight train service.

This activation of the Mococo line not only affects Brentwood but many of our neighboring communities such as Oakley, Antioch, Pittsburg and Tracy, as well as many other north Contra Costa County cities. Discussions are being held at the regional level with the Contra Costa Transportation Agency to find workable solutions for communities impacted by rail service. Staff recommends that Mayor Taylor and Vice Mayor Brockman represent the City at such meetings, as well as other discussions with local and regional policymakers and with UPRR representatives on the reactivation of the Mococo line. Additionally, staff is recommending that the Council authorize the Mayor and Vice Mayor to work with staff on securing any regional, state or federal funds for improvements to the Brentwood corridor.

FISCAL IMPACT
There is no fiscal impact associated with this item.

 
City Administration
City of Brentwood City Council
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