Union Pacific considering shutdown of popular I-80 shortcut

JEREMY DANG / AGGIE

Concern over transportation consequences

Union Pacific, the U.S.’s largest freight-hauling railroad, is bidding to shut down or alter County Road 32A, which runs parallel to Interstate 80 across the Yolo Causeway.

Union Pacific points to a series of sharp turns on each side of the railroad tracks at the Road 105 intersection, which make the road dangerous for motorists.

The road is used as a shortcut for commuters from Davis, Sacramento and the Bay Area. A shut down of the road would create one less avenue for drivers traveling across the causeway.

“I use [Road 32A] everyday to bypass the traffic,” said Patrick Maolini, a Sacramento resident who commutes by car across the causeway to get to work in the Bay Area. “Causeway traffic in Davis and Sacramento is only going to become more congested if we shut down the road with any additional alternative transportation investments.”

Protests against Union Pacific’s bid have been filed by the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, the city of Davis and the California Farm Bureau Federation. Each group is concerned about increased congestion on I-80 and a shift in vehicular traffic toward already densely traveled roads such as Mace Boulevard.

Road 32A is not only used for car commuters, but bike commuters as well.

“Although it gets a little unsafe at times, Road 32A is my only way to commute from Davis to Sacramento by bicycle conveniently,” said Leon Kelley, a bike commuter from Davis. “It’d be a shame if I had to find a different form of transportation because of one unsafe stretch of road.”

Recently, local biking advocacy group Bike Davis joined the debate over the potential closure of Road 32A.

“In the spirit of compromise, Bike Davis has developed a proposal to close the westbound lane of County Road 32A to all but cyclists and farm equipment,” reads a legal motion signed by Bike Davis Executive Board President Dan Fuchs.

The possible closure of Road 32A was discussed at a Davis city council meeting on Dec. 5.

“The Road 32A crossing needs to be closed,” said Davis resident Alan Miller at the city council meeting. “It’s very dangerous. The thing is, to close that crossing and not have an alternative is unconscionable. The garbage trucks, ag vehicles and bicycles all trying to go through Mace Boulevard and use alternate routes? It’s insane.”

All five members of city council panel, Mayor Robb Davis, Mayor Pro Tempore Brett Lee, Will Arnold, Lucas Frerichs and Rochelle Swanson, expressed support for a new bicycle structure along the causeway.

Caltrans Deputy Director for Planning Marlon Flournoy stressed that a new bike route will be added before any changes are made to Road 32A.

In November, Yolo County and Caltrans announced they were seeking federal funding for a pedestrian or bike structure for causeway commuters, along with additional carpool and bus lanes on I-80.

A decision on the fate of Road 32A is expected soon, according to Beth Gabor, a county spokeswoman.

 

Written by: Dylan Svoboda — city@theaggie.org