The Press

Construction begins at South Gate railroad crossing

SOUTH GATE — Construction is under way to improve the intersection of Firestone Boulevard and Rayo Avenue and upgrade the Union Pacific Railroad track that crosses Firestone and Rayo.

But to do so, the city needs permission from the railroad and the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles; owners of the right of way there, Public Works Director Arturo Cervantes said.

At the direction of the California Public Utilities Commission, the City Council Feb. 10 contracted with the two agencies to pay a permit fee of $4,000 and a one-time security deposit of $5,250.

In addition, the city must pay an annual rental fee totaling $2,000 to Union Pacific and the two ports. That fee is under negotiation, Cervantes said.

Upon meeting the permit requirements, South Gate will have the authority to work in the right-of-way and alter it by installing sidewalks on parts of Rayo within the right-of-way.

The ground-level, one-track crossing will not be changed, but the project includes a new sidewalk along the west side of the tracks, along Rayo from Firestone southeast to Southern Avenue, detectable warning surfaces on the sidewalk as one approaches the track as well as warnings on the existing sidewalk on the east side plus a new track panel between existing tracks and a merging lane, as well as striping and the installation of restricted parking signs, Cervantes said.

However, it is up to the railroad to design the track improvement project and construct it, with reimbursement from the city. If the railroad proposed cost is too high, the city can opt out of the track improvement project, Cervantes added.

If the project concerning the tracks goes ahead, the city must obtain the permits and maintain the right-of-way.

Widening and other improvements at the intersection of the two streets will be funded by a grant under the county truck program to improve streets bearing heavy traffic to and from the two ports.

The average daily traffic load at the intersection is almost 15,000 vehicles, officials said.

To make the matter more complicated, the project would cross a water main right-of-way owned by the Metropolitan Water District, for which the city must seek an easement, Cervantes said. Total cost of the easement acquisition is $7,000.

In other action Feb. 10:

• The City Council decided against allocating more than $1 million dollars for Southern California Edison to place electric wires underground along Tweedy Boulevard from Atlantic Avenue about 430 feet east, the location of the new Legacy High school, currently under construction. The council recommended that the district complete construction of the Tweedy extension to the school site without placing the wires underground.•

• Mayor Henry Gonzalez presented a proclamation to family members of Pedro Jimenez on his 106th birthday. Jimenez was not able to attend. City Manager Michael Flad said Jimenez is the father of Planning Commissioner Sylvia Masushige and still lives in the home he purchased on Beechwood Avenue in 1970. Jimenez has attended the senior citizen breakfast and lunch program for 15 years and enjoys spending time with his family at casinos, Flad said in a written report to Council.