Weekend motorists probably noticed a relatively rare sight along Patterson Road on Saturday. AT&T crews were busy that afternoon, moving phone lines from old poles to new ones erected by MID crews last July.
The new power, and now phone, poles are set back from the north edge of the roadway, where widening will ultimately occur.
Work began last summer, when a pole barn next to the existing fence was cut down to make way for the coming project. During the summer, Modesto Irrigation District crews erected a new set of power poles set back from the current street, inside the fence line bordering the parking lot of a cannery building there.
In addition to the phone lines, cable television transmission lines will have to be moved, then the older poles will be removed before actual road work begins.
The widening will ultimately involve installing synchronized stop lights at the intersections of Roselle Avenue with Patterson, and First Street with it. The stoplights will coordinate with barriers at the railroad crossing on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks between the two intersections, much like the new lights on Claribel Road and Terminal Avenue.
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, railroad 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 here, 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 in the past.
Also, officials expect the improvements to 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.