Sunday, March 1, 2015

Railroad pulls a switch fence

February 17, 2011 |

The city of Davis’ game of chicken with the Union Pacific Corp. continues over the railroad’s plans to build a fence along its tracks running through the city.

City officials headed to Wednesday’s meeting of the Capital Corridor Joint Powers Authority board, the regional body that doles out transit safety and security bonds, ready to make their case that it shouldn’t fund the fence.

By then, however, Union Pacific had changed its plans.

In a letter to the joint powers authority dated Tuesday, Scott Moore, vice president for public affairs, withdrew the company’s request for public funding for the project.

“UP will be exploring options to fund the safety fence exclusively with private dollars, though we have no timetable set for the construction to occur,” Moore wrote.

The railroad’s request for public money had provided a way for Davis officials to use a legally mandated environmental review to slow the project and pressure UP to modify its plans.

UP envisions an 8-foot-high, 3,600-foot-long fence running alongside the tracks from Richards Boulevard to the east end of Olive Drive.

City officials and residents worry the fence would worsen safety problems and isolate the adjacent Olive Drive neighborhood. They don’t want it built without a permanent at-grade bike and pedestrian crossing added at the train station.

On Tuesday, the City Council directed City Attorney Harriet Steiner to be prepared to file an injunction to halt any construction on the fence unless local concerns are addressed.

“Quite frankly (UP’s letter), convinced me that we’d done exactly the right thing the night before, which was to get our legal house ready to do what they might need to do,” Mayor Joe Krovoza said Thursday.

“I think that the City Council and the city staff have been clear in our opposition to the fence and supportive of a comprehensive solution that increases safety between the Olive Drive neighborhood and the rest of the city.”

The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority board, on which Krovoza and fellow Council member Sue Greenwald both sit, has not approved funding for the fence.

Last fall, CCJPA staff budgeted $250,000 in Prop. 1B funds toward its completion, said public information officer Luna Salaver.

David Kutrosky, the CCJPA’s managing director, told those at Wednesday’s meeting that he would hold the money in hopes that city and railroad can work through their differences.

If progress isn’t made, however, the money will be put to use elsewhere along the corridor. The board must be allocate the money by March 31, 2012, or lose it.

The board also authorized its chair, Bob Franklin, to write a letter to UP urging cooperation with the city.

On Thursday, attorneys for both sides did speak for a time by phone for the first time in a long while. City attorney Steiner said she and UP attorney David Pickett “had a good conversation” — and that she hoped to schedule a meeting between company representatives and city staff within the next week.

The call and Moore’s letter were the first “signs of life” from UP on the issue since the council’s Jan. 11 meeting the covered the issue, Krovoza said.

On Feb. 1, interim City Manager Paul Navazio followed up with a two-page letter laying out the concerns of the council and staff. That, too, has gone without a formal response.

Aaron Hunt, a UP spokesman, said the company withdrew its request for public funding after it became clear that “a public-private partnership wouldn’t be feasible at this point.”

Hunt disagreed with the assessment of local officials, saying his company had been “very responsive on the legal side and on the public affairs side.”

“We have sat in meetings with city staff. We have attended the City Council. We have been in consistent contact with the legal team,” he said. “We have definitely been committed to working with the city of Davis and we will continue to do that.

“The end result may or may not be what either side had originally envisioned but we will continue to move forward because there are real safety issues there.”

UP remains concerned about people walking across the Davis tracks, Hunt said. About 32 Amtrak trains use them each day; about 300 freight trains pass over them each week.

Statewide, 57 trespassers were killed on railroad tracks in California last year, according to the nonprofit organization Operation Lifesaver.

“That is what we are working against,” Hunt said. “One fatality is too many for us.”

Both Hunt and Krovoza expressed optimism that an agreement will be worked out.

Alan Miller, a Davis resident who attended the meeting and has long pushed for a permanent crossing, expressed some skepticism. In an e-mail message, he called the “near crisis” an opportunity for Davis to solve the safety issue.

“This either means Davis won or Davis lost,” Miller said of UP’s letter withdrawing its request for funding. “Either ‘the use of private funds’ means UP will build it themselves and damn the wishes of Davis, or UP is stating its intention to build for legal cover and has no intention of building anything in Davis anytime soon.

“My immediate goal was to stop UP’s Berlin Wall-style solution. However, the situation as it exists is neither safe nor sustainable. Eventually, the railroad will act if Davis does not. A modest, attractive fence is needed to guide people to a safe, legal and convenient crossing from Olive (Drive) to downtown, and, on the east end of Olive, to access (East Davis).”

— Reach Cory Golden at [email protected] or (530) 747-8046. Track him at



Cory Golden

Cory Golden

The Enterprise's higher-education and congressional reporter.
  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .


    Sheriff: Mother ‘sole person responsible’ for infant’s death

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Rifle Team has a blast with competitive shooting

    By Savannah Holmes | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Child abduction case in jury’s hands

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1

    Pipeline project will soften water in 2016

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

    Pig out at Farmers Market’s Pig Day

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1

    Christie to Republicans: No rush to pick 2016 nominee

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Bob Dunning: Colon prep can be hard to swallow

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

    Scouts help fill STEAC’s pantry

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

    Weekend storm drops snow, rain, hail in California

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    City offers wetlands tour

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Parole denied in 1987 killing spree

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Explore Asia at Arboretum storytime

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    MU Games closing in late March

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

    Still no parole in toddler case

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    UCD student with meningococcal disease is recovering

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Young patients bond with special stuffies

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Diversity theater group continues creativity workshops

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Radio talk show moves to Mondays

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Assault awareness campaign kicks off

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

    UCD student panel to cover anti-Semitism, Islamophobia

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Yolo Food Bank hosts thank-you breakfast on Pig Day

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9



    Milt Priggee cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: B4

    Rowing: PE as well as life skills

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    Police complaint procedures drafted

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    Clarifying energy update letter

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    Weekly claw pickup necessary

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    Mars or ISIS? Similar outcome

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    City may get charged up over energy choices

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B4

    Speak out

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B5

    Design innovation centers for the 21st century

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

    A new perspective on life

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: A7

    Distant water crisis has lessons for Davis

    By Marion Franck | From Page: A7

    Call for study to settle if anesthesia poses risk to babies

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7



    Aggie men get a bounce-back win at Cal Poly

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    The mystery continues: lowly Gauchos upset UCD women

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Devils get a soccer win despite finishing woes

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Winning close games is the key for DHS softballers

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Sports briefs: Razo throws well as Aggies get a baseball win

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    Defending champion Blue Devils have diamond holes to fill

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B3 | Gallery

    Republic FC falls to storied New York Cosmos

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B10







    Yolo Federal Credit Union honored for supporting business education

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

    Online store will celebrate, mock People’s Republic of Davis

    By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A10 | Gallery





    Comics: Sunday, March 1, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B8