Passersby on Patterson Road recently may have noticed crews working on utility poles nearby as they approach where the railroad crosses, between Roselle Avenue and First Street in downtown Riverbank.
The work is in support of a project widening Patterson and ultimately, installing synchronized stop lights at those intersections, coordinating with the barriers at the crossing.
The project has long been on the city's five-year capital improvement plan. In addition to the stoplight synchronization, the project will also widen Patterson road, eventually as far as the Riverbank High School campus, at Claus Road at Patterson. It is hoped that alignment of lanes on Patterson, where on some blocks the street is narrow, can be corrected.
Ultimately, RR crossings on Patterson, between First and Eighth streets, will be improved as well, where the Sierra Railroad crosses. The Sierra and the Union Pacific Railroad bring freight cars from Oakdale to Riverbank through the rail yard, owned by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad.
In addition to moving local freight, the Sierra Railway also operates the Sierra Dinner Train in Oakdale, the Sacramento River Train, from Woodland to Sacramento, and the Skunk Train between Fort Bragg and Willits.
It is hoped the projects will improve safety for both vehicles and pedestrians at the crossings. Fatalities have been recorded in the area.
Also, officials hope the improvements will help cut down on traffic congestion at Roselle and First Street in the morning and afternoon, as local commuters travel through Riverbank on their way to and from work.