BNSF representatives told the city "they are committed to working with Norman and their consulting engineers on the underpass project," O'Leary said. O'Leary had reported to the city council Sept. 9 that railroad officials were mandating design changes that would increase the underpass construction cost by about $1.4 million and would delay its completion by at least three months. The modifications in design were for a temporary track called a "shoofly" that will be built so trains can continue to run while the underpass is being built.
The modifications to the shoofly were so trains could travel 55 mph through the construction zone rather than the 40 mph originally agreed upon, O'Leary said.
City officials traveled to Kansas City, Mo., to meet with railroad officials to protest the changes, which would cost the city more money. They reported back to council members that the meeting didn't go well.
The turnaround in the company's position "is great news for Norman," Mayor Cindy Rosenthal said. "It emphasizes the effectiveness of the working partnership between the city and BNSF. We appreciate their reconsideration of their most recent position on this matter."
A bid letting for the $25-million project will be in January. Construction should begin by March and take about 18 months to complete, O'Leary said.