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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / Union Pacific files suit over Oakland ballpark plan

Union Pacific files suit over Oakland ballpark plan

By | April 5, 2022

Railroad says environmental report fails to address safety risk from busy rail line

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Artist's rendering of ballpark and large buildings along railroad tracks
Artist's rendering of ballpark and large buildings along railroad tracks
An artist’s rendering of the proposed Waterfront District Ballpark in Oakland shows its proximity to Union Pacific’s main line (Oakland Athletics).

OAKLAND, Calif. — Union Pacific has filed suit against the city of Oakland and major-league baseball’s Oakland Athletics over a proposed ballpark and related mixed-use development near Jack London Square.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports the railroad is challenging the project’s environmental analysis, saying in the suit filed in Alameda County Superior Court fails to consider and mitigate safety risks and other issues arising from “the large numbers of motor vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians” that would have to cross UP’s heavily-used tracks adjacent to the project.

“Union Pacific believes developing the Howard Terminal site without removing rail, vehicle and pedestrian conflicts will exacerbate roadway congestion and create significant safety risks for the public and our employees,” spokeswoman Robynn Tysver said in a statement to the newspaper. “We are asking that the Oakland A’s and City of Oakland go back and diligently study a grade-separated access plan to properly mitigate the risks.”

A’s President Dave Kaval criticized the suit, telling the Chronicle, “One of the key parts of this project is maintaining railroad safety. Our project is going to do so much to make Jack London Square safer.”

The city approved the environmental review of the ballpark and development last month, opening a 30-day window for legal challenges. That period ended at 5 p.m. Monday. A coalition of workers, truckers, and cargo-terminal operators at the Port of Oakland has also filed suit.

10 thoughts on “Union Pacific files suit over Oakland ballpark plan

  1. So here we have the inverse of the NIMBYs who can’t adjust to increasing rail traffic at a grade crossing. Now the railroad is the NIMBY which can’t abide by increasing vehicular and pedestrian traffic crossing the railroad at grade.

    Grade crossing conflicts are a real problem but are not an environmental issue. This is yet another in an endless series where an environmental suit is filed not on environmental grounds but because a party to the suit wants the project to be modified to its benefit. In other words, wants their pound of flesh out of the project budget. For a wonderful example, walk the I-696 Walter P. Reuther Freeway through Oakland County, Michigan, where every interest group from Orthodox Jews to zoo giraffes got their sizable bite of the project cost (mostly justified) not through good-faith negotiation but through filing lawsuits.

    If we had a real government instead of a government by lawsuit, the parties would sit at the table and come up with a solution to the benefit of all.

    1. Yep, Charles I think everyone can agree to your point of endless litigation is causing issues no matter what side of the fence someone might be on the issue.

    2. Charles: Transportation is one of the categories evaluated in environmental reviews for transportation projects. This can include impacts on bus service, pedestrian movements, general traffic, and railroad operations. If a project has the potential to increase or generate new grade crossing conflicts, that is one of the issues assessed in an environmental review. As environmental documents for major projects are typically available on transportation organization websites, you may want to look at a few yourself to understand how potential impacts on other modes of transportation are considered.

  2. Hard to see, but those two track crossings in the foreground of the illustration look like overpasses, as does the one in the more distant background. No? Can’t see 50,000 or so fans crossing the tracks at grade.

  3. UPRR wants the line dropped below street level in the Oakland downtown district.

    It makes sense overall, but UPRR doesn’t want to pay for it.

    1. It’d be an expensive project because it’s so close to the bay. The soil is inherently unstable and very wet, therefore it will be very hard to construct and mitigate seepage.
      Plus there would have to be a multi-platform station in it too.

      1. Yep, great points plus the rebuild of Emeryville and Oakland Jack London rail station serving Amtrak & California corridor trains.

        I understand that at a minimum UP/BNSF/California wants to add another track to the corridor running through Richmond/Berkeley/Oakland which would be a candidate for a piece of the rail infrastructure funds if they got their ducks in row but have no idea. Its a pretty constant parade of trains. Trench would be ideal just as you have leaving Port of LA/Long Beach and or say the Reno trench but the cost for utility relocation dewatering system would be huge. i think money spent on additional overpasses, extra track and fencing off corridor would be a much wiser way to go about it.

  4. From what I can see on google maps they are going to have to buy up a lot of property to build a ballpark. Looks like three at grade crossings there and street running for four blocks with five at grade crossings at Jack London Sq. Just east of Howard Terminal.

  5. I live in Alameda which is just a mile away or less from this project and I can tell you it is the stupidest idea I have seen in a long time. In addition to UP’s main line to San Jose and Stockton there are dozens of Amtrak/Capital trains each day. The UP trains are moving in and out of the Port of Oakland at start up speed and can take 10 minutes to clear a crossing. In addition the shinny drawing does not show a major scrap metal processing plant that loads scrap steel and iron onto cargo ships and is not planning on moving. As for the idea of lowering the tracks this area is a bay fill and if you start digging you are going to have a combination of saltwater and toxic sludge from past industries spurting up from the ground. This entire deal is the wish of a billionaire team owner wanting to build a big real estate development. The team owner could have built a brand new stadium with no problems next to the old stadium site. That site has BART access, parking and two freeway exits. This sight has none of that.

  6. It seems like this is a red herring to get the team moved to Las Vegas, which may be the owner’s ultimate goal.

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