$6 Million in Funding for the Blackstone & McKinley Railroad Separations Project Approved by Fresno County Transportation Authority
The Fresno County Transportation Authority (FCTA) awarded $6,000,000 of Measure C funding to the City of Fresno to begin design and environmental studies for a project to build two railroad grade separations at Blackstone and McKinley just east of Fresno City College. Measure C’s Alternative Transportation Program was originally intended to consolidate the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad with the Union Pacific railroad which runs near Golden State Blvd. However, if rail consolidation was deemed infeasible the fund was to be used to construct grade separations that best coordinated with transit operations, reduced congestion, and improved air quality. The Board’s action provided this specific funding to meet all of these goals and significantly improve public safety by building grade separation structures for the double crossing of Blackstone and McKinley by the BNSF Railroad.
An average of 37 trains per day travel these tracks and over 42,000 vehicles cross the combined intersections daily. Measure C Funding will alleviate the traffic congestion resulting from these slow moving trains, by relocating traffic to go under the BNSF train tracks (much like the Shaw and West crossings of the BNSF). The project will improve on-time service performance for the City’s Bus Rapid Transit “Q” line and remedy traffic for Fresno City College located at the northwest quadrant of the Blackstone and McKinley intersection. Tragically, five lives have been lost at these crossings over the last 10 years. This project will eliminate that public safety threat.
Project design, right of way acquisition and construction is estimated to cost between $70 and $80 million. FCTA is confident that as the design and environmental evaluation phase is completed, additional Measure C money will be available to continue the project. FCTA and the City of Fresno are also committed to identifying additional funding sources to ensure the project is completed and opened to traffic.
This project will be fully compatible and complementary to the “Better Blackstone” initiative which is intended to diversify and improve land uses along the corridor as well as improve its aesthetics and make it more pedestrian friendly. It is also fully compatible with the affordable housing project currently under construction in the southwest corner of the McKinley-Blackstone intersection.
Construction on this project will begin Winter 2022 and be completed Winter 2025, weather permitting.