Joseph Anson drives north on Cooper Street from his south Arlington townhome with little to no traffic snarls and doesn’t expect much delay around Jan. 18 when the five railroad grade crossings – including Cooper near Main, which Anson uses to get to I-30 – are shut down for construction.
His plan: cut over to West Street where he can go underneath the tracks and keep on moving.
“It’s the best-kept secret in getting around the train, especially when it’s moving slow and we’re all backed up,” Anson said. “Not a lot of people even use it.”
Starting Jan. 16, railroad grade crossings beginning at Bowen Road will shut down, forcing motorists traveling north and south through the city to find alternate routes.
According to Union Pacific, Davis is expected to close on Jan. 17, with Cooper, Center and Mesquite closing on Jan. 18, at which point five railroad crossings will be closed at one time. As the project continues to move east, Union Pacific is committed to opening Bowen before closing Collins and before Stadium closes, Davis will open.
The shutdowns are due to the Union Pacific Renewal Project. Over an estimated eight days, Union Pacific will renew the railroad track which includes replacing wooden railroad ties with concrete ones along a 13-mile stretch of rail running parallel to Division Street.
According to Union Pacific, concrete ties enable trains to operate more smoothly, more efficiently and with less noise.
“It’s certainly going to cause delays, but it’s a situation we simply can’t get around,” said City of Arlington Public Works and Transportation Director Keith Melton. “The best-case scenario is to be prepared and patient.”
Planning a driving route before Jan. 16 is the key to a smoother commute, according to Melton. Streets like West, which is two lanes and narrow, are going to be crowded with motorists.
The other two-lane, narrow road that “will get congested really fast,” said Melton, is Forest Edge, which for drivers going southbound can be picked up at Division Street and northbound off Park Row.
Melton suggests taking IH-820, Eastchase (going south), Green Oaks (going north), Fielder, 360 or even 161 to get in or out of Arlington. Remember that West and Forest Edge have underpass height limits, and truck traffic will be restricted from utilizing these routes.
“Start on the perimeter and move inward after you’ve passed the railroad crossings,” Melton said.
He also suggests carpooling with a co-worker or neighbor going in the same direction and taking advantage of the City’s Park and Ride locations at IH-30 and Lamar (520 parking spaces) and IH-20 at Park Springs (354 parking spaces).
The City has been working closely with the University of Texas at Arlington as well. Commuting students and staff are returning to school for the spring semester on Jan. 14.
Drivers can find a detailed detour map at MyArlingtonTx.com and get recent updates by following the City of Arlington on Twitter @CityOfArlington #TrackRenewal. You can also sign up for email updates at MyArlingtonTx.com or visit www.MyArlingtonTx.com/UP.