Council members on Tuesday night approved a resolution allowing city officials to take the legal route if it cannot come to terms with property owners on land acquisition that it says will be necessary to eliminate two at-grade train crossings in the city.
City officials say they have been meeting for years with attorneys of two businesses impacted by the projects.
Otto Kroutil said the city would prefer to settle the issue out of court but time is running out on two state grants totaling more than $100 million.
If the city can not prove to the state by March that is has obtained the right-of-way on the project it will lose the funding and likely delay the projects indefinitely, he said.
But one of the lawyers for the two companies opposed to the grade separations argued that the changes could "put them out of business."
The South Milliken Avenue grade separation will eliminate the at-grade crossing by elevating the thoroughfare over the trains on Milliken at Mission Boulevard.
Officials say the overpass will improve motorist and pedestrian safety, eliminate delays for motorists, reduce noise in the area and improve air quality.
The second project, North Vineyard Avenue grade separation, features an underpass configuration and a two-track bridge just south of Holt Avenue.
The proposed project will raise the railroad four feet and lower Vineyard 22 feet with an underpass configuration including two-track bridge.
Officials say this alternative utilizes the maximum track elevation rise allowed by the Union Pacific Railroad and allows for maintaining access to all of the existing businesses along Vineyard and Holt.