Dirt Work for roadways and infrastructure of new RailRoad Underpass in Fraser.
Documents Contained in the links of this article were provided by:
• Cornerstone Winter Park Holdings, LLC
• The Public Utilities Commission
• and the Town of Winter Park
The documents were used for research on the project and have not been altered or used in any way other than facts for our story. There is more information and historical records about this project and encourage the readers to explore the information and ask questions. The only information other than these documents that we could find is the website and Facebook page dedicated to the project Winter Park Underpass.
The staff at Winter Park Times do not have a position or stake in this project.
The proposed Winter Park/Fraser Union Pacific Railroad Underpass (Leland Creek Underpass or Winter Park Underpass) is soon to become a reality despite ongoing legal disputes and a contentious relationship between the town of Winter Park and project development company, Cornerstone Winter Park Holdings, LLC.
The project is going to take place in three phases of construction. Phase One consists of the preparation work and infrastructure necessary for the road systems and bridge development. Phase 2 is the bridge system and infrastructure for the rail line then phase three will be to connect the existing road systems to the new Fraser road system. The final step will be to close and dismantle the at-grade crossing that has been known as Kings Crossing.
Although we could not verify with certainty, we were told that Union Pacific will close the at grade crossing on Kings Crossing Road in Winter Park because of the proximity to the new grade separation underpass. The new underpass is located approximately 200yds north of the current crossing.
Raquel Espinoza, Director Corporate Communications for Union Pacific, stated that “the project will provide a safe alternative to the current at grade crossing” and help ensure the safety of motorists and residents in the area. To enhance highway-rail grade crossing safety, “Union Pacific endorses the United States Department of Transportation’s goal of reducing the number of at-grade crossings, both public and private, through consolidation, elimination, grade separation and restriction of the number of new crossings installed.”
Union Pacific, other railroads, the Federal Railroad Administration and most states also encourage communities to carefully consider all alternatives, including grade separations, as opposed to the creation of new at-grade crossings. Union Pacific and other railroads believe the cost of a grade crossing separation should not outweigh the enhanced safety it would provide for the traveling public.
The Underpass was first brought to the table in 2004 (click here for PDF) in an agreement between the Town of Winter Park and Cornerstone Winter Park Holdings, LLC, development company for Grand Park. From our understanding of the documents on file, the agreement in simple terms was to annex Leland Creek into the town of Winter Park with the understanding that a grade-separated crossing would be built for access to the property and the at grade crossing would be eliminated. According to the documents, the developer would cover the majority of the funding and project construction and the Town of Winter Park would invest 1.75 million to help finance project construction.
Clark Lipscomb said, “we are about 50% done with the initial phase” and are finalizing the plans for phase two. Lipscomb added, “We have done the majority of the initial dirt work and have bridge materials on site.” We want to get as much done as we can by the end of the year. Lipscomb estimated “the cost of the project in it’s entirety is about 9 million.” The goal is to finish the project by the summer of 2018. Jeff Durbin, Fraser Town Manager said, “This project makes sense for the community on many levels” Recently, the town of Fraser relied on the Fraser Parkway underpass while they made much needed at-grade improvements on the Eisenhower Drive crossing.
While the project has been a legal battle ground for the Town of Winter Park and Cornerstone Winter Park Holdings, LLC. for years, an agreement reached in 2014 seems to have set the stage for the work taking place today. Whether the two entities can come to a mutual agreement over the financing remains to be seen but, one thing is clear, the project is rapidly moving forward and once completed, Union Pacific will make the final decision on the existing crossing.