Pennsylvania Avenue crossing

Pennsylvania Avenue railroad crossing.

Beaumont is progressing with improvments to Pennsylvania Avenue, approving measures to advance service agreements and designs to widen the street and eventually alter the grade so the street passes below the railroad crossing.

During its July 19 city council meeting, Beaumont approved spending $1,069,018 for Union Pacific to install new signals, and budgeted $21,550 annually to pay for that maintenance.

It is part of the city’s Pennsylvania Avenue widening project, which is being advertised for construction bids, and partly involves widening the portion of the road that crosses Union Pacific’s right-of-way.

Union Pacific provided estimates to the city of $173,000 to grant the city rights to move forward with construction, maintenances and repairs of the expanded roadway; $896,018 for installation of upgraded signals and expansion of the railroad crossing area; $18,530 per year in annual signal maintenance upon completion of the project, along with $3,020 per year in surface maintenance.

The agreement allows the city to widen the street, and add raised medians and a sidewalk.

The city also approved an amendment to the design agreement with Orange-based Kimberly Horn and Associates, Inc. for $131,615, since the company will now also add Caltrans coordination, bidding and construction services, and document preparation in addition to its design duties.

At the meeting, Beaumont also approved an amendment to its contract with Anaheim-based IDC Consulting Engineers, Inc. for $1,294,849 to complete its engineering tasks.

Julio Martinez asked Public Works Director Jeff Hart to explain how a “no horn, quiet zone” would be implemented, as it was among the city’s wishes.

Hart explained that the latest agreement was just one step in a long process, and such a request would go before the Public Utilities Commission, whereas the physical improvements around the tracks that include installation of the median and the dual gates were what was before the council Tuesday.

Councilman Mike Lara questioned the appropriateness of spending $130,000 for what seemed like encroachment rights.

Hart explained that it was a fee associated with the in-perpetuity maintenance agreement, saying that when it comes to grants of rights for a municipality to access railroad property, “there’s no wiggle room,” and that rates are set.

Mayor Lloyd White was curious as to where the city’s actions Tuesday night fall into the timeline related to the Pennsylvania Avenue widening.

“What more needs to be done to continue forward?” he asked.

“This is one of the remaining items. We’re out to bid as well,” Hart replied.

The city has moved closer to obtaining a CalTrans permit for construction of the CalTrans right-of-way beneath the freeway, and Southern California Edison has committed to relocations for its utilities, and regulatory permits are being sought, an obstacle being a staffing challenge with the Corps of Engineers that has slowed the process and risks the city missing certain deadlines.

Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at dheiss@recordgazette.net.

Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at dheiss@recordgazette.net , or by calling (951) 849-4586 x114.

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