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City plans pedestrian rail crossing

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Elko railroad pedestrian crossing

The City of Elko is planning to construct a pedestrian crossing at the Union Pacific Railroad tracks along Hot Springs Road.

ELKO – Plans are underway for a pedestrian crossing over Union Pacific Railroad tracks at Hot Springs Road, and the Elko City Council has approved a reimbursement agreement with UP for an estimated $25,000 for engineering services for the crossing.

Elko City Manager Curtis Calder said on Jan. 12 that the crossing “is simply a ‘sidewalk’ across the railroad tracks,” but the project is still complex and requires engineering.

The railroad crossing on the west end of town remained after Project Lifesaver moved tracks and built bridges over other crossings in the city in the 1980s.

Bob Thibault, the city’s civic engineer, said in an email that he wasn’t sure yet about the construction cost for the crossing, but “we will start working with the engineering consultant to determine that.”

Union Pacific requires that all new construction be coordinated through the UP’s engineer consultant, so the $25,000 is the estimated cost for the city for preliminary engineering design assistance for the crossing. Thibault has already done a preliminary design.

“So, we will work with them to hammer out some details,” Thibault told the council.

The council on Jan. 11 approved the expenditure, after Mayor Reece Keener said he had asked what drives the need for action.

He said Calder told him the “railroad has been after us to get this done for some time,” and the location of the humanitarian camp at Hot Springs Road and the city’s new shop building in that vicinity have increased pedestrian traffic over the tracks.

Calder told the council the Nevada Public Utilities Commission is the regulator, and if “they came down today and saw the shop and camp, they would want to be visiting with us. I would just as soon get ahead of this.”

He told the council, however, that construction of the sidewalk crossing is “probably a year out,” after the city and railroad work together to come up with a design that UP approves. The city would foot the bill for the crossing sidewalk.

According to the reimbursement agreement with the railroad, the city will reimburse UP for 100% of all the actual costs for the railroad’s engineering consultant, and the “construction and maintenance of the project will be at no cost to the railroad.”

The reimbursement pact also says that the project must be approved by the railroad, and no work can begin until a construction and maintenance agreement is signed by both the city and UP.

The city’s humanitarian camp is for homeless people, but the city also takes steps during the extreme cold to provide a warm place for the homeless, including those at the camp.

Assistant City Manager Scott Wilkinson told the council on Jan. 12 that one hotel has now signed the memorandum of understanding for lodging, and the hotel made two rooms available on two recent bad-weather occasions when the city declared an emergency.

“That’s the extent of our ability to provide shelter in cold weather so far this year,” Wilkinson said.

The memorandum of understanding is for the city to rent rooms from a signing hotel or motel during the bitter cold when the city declares an emergency.

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