Repairs are completed to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway main line where it crosses Patterson Road, wrapping up this past week after a surprise closure of the road. It began on Friday, July 17 and concluded some time on Wednesday, July 22.
Local officials apparently were not notified of the closure ahead of time, with the only warning being signs posted on both sides of the crossing the day before. According to City Manager Jill Anderson, she returned to work on Monday to find the closure in place.
The city had a furlough day Friday, July 17, with offices closed. Citizens trying to find out about the problem the day the closure began could not contact city staff on Friday to try and get information.
Anderson said the work was classified as an ‘emergency’ by the railroad which apparently required the closure that Friday. However, motorists noticed that no equipment or crews were present at the site over the weekend, although passing trains continued through town.
On Friday, heavy equipment peeled back the asphalt next to the rails where they crossed the street. Additional equipment was brought in on Monday to lift out the concrete separators that smooth out the surface of the crossing. By Wednesday, the work was done, the surface patched up and Patterson Road open again to traffic.
A crew supervisor on Friday said they were going to have to raise the tracks to street level to improve the safety at the crossing.
Both Anderson and Police Chief Erin Kiely said they were not notified of the closure beforehand and said their staffs merely adapted to the situation in carrying out their duties. Kiely could not tell whether the 911 dispatch center or fire services were notified either. Also, he could not tell if there had been any impact on response times of police, fire or ambulance in emergencies while the road was closed.
The county’s StaRT transit system’s route 60 bus normally comes down Patterson Road from Modesto through Riverbank, turning on Claus Road to connect to Oakdale. It had to re-route for the duration of the work.
Photos in the archives of the Riverbank Historical Society show the single main line that came through town when the settlement was young. A dirt wagon trail crossed the tracks east to west back then.