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ACE opens $65M state-of-art facility

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ACE opens $65M state-of-art facility

Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen points out the new wheel-trimming machine.

VINCE REMBULAT/The Bulletin/


POSTED March 23, 2014 10:02 p.m.

Bryan Pennino likened the sparkling new Altamont Corrdior Express Maintenance Facility as an auto repair shop.

“Only it’s bigger, much bigger,” he said at Saturday’s grand opening of the 121,000-square –foot building.

Pennino served as the project manager for the energy-efficient structure consisting of over six miles of tracks on site. The building consists of recycled materials – at least 87 percent of it, Pennino said – while the rain water harvesting system collects rain from the roof and perimeter to handle irrigation along the 64-acre site.

Photovoltaic panels will help generate power for the facility also serving as a layover for trains.

The Stockton maintenance yard is dreams come true for Bob Johnson, Scott Haggerty and Brent Ives. All three serve on the board for the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission and were there from the start.

Each credited the late Robert Cabral for his vision of finding “an efficient way to get over the hill” from the Central Valley, said Tracy Mayor Ives.

The grand-opening event also celebrated the 15-year anniversary of ACE. Those attending included dignitaries, guests, and employees and representatives of ACE, Herzog (the transit services working with ACE), Union Pacific, Bombardier, Hatch Mott MacDonald, the Pennino Management and Design group, and the law firm of Neumiller & Beardslee.

The $65 million project at East Alpine Avenue and West Lane was finished on time. It will be used to service and maintain the commuter trains as they make their way on daily runs – for now – from Stockton to Santa Clara. ACE plans to expand services in the coming years to include Modesto, Sacramento and eventually linking up to the high-speed railway in Merced.

If not for the housing collapse of 2008, ACE probably wouldn’t have this place for maintenance and layover. The site was a home to a plant that at one time manufactured wooden boxes and crates and, later, moldings. Prior to 1920, the area was used for agriculture, according to rail attorney Tom Shepherd.

Developers purchased the land, with plans of putting in a large, multi-family development during the boom of the housing market. But it was not to be.

“Today, we have a magnificent facility,” he said. “I hope it will long provide useful services.”

Stacey Mortensen, executive director of ACE, accompanied the likes of Congressman Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) and Stockton City Councilwoman Kathy Miller high above the facility to demonstrate some of the machinery.

Denham was long for the ride on the 30-ton overhead capacity crane that spanned the entire facility while Miller had a chance to maneuver the portable scaffold.

Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) showcased the wheel-trimming machine.

“It keeps the (rail) wheels round,” she said. “This was a job that had to be shipped out of town but now we can do it right here.

“We’ve invested in jobs in Stockton.”

 In addition, Manteca Councilman John Harris, who is also a rail commissioner, gave a demonstration of the large rollup doors. “It’s designed to open at high speeds,” he explained.

At that moment, Congressman Jerry McNerney (D-Stockton) pulled in riding shotgun in the track mobile. This rail vehicle is utilized to roll along the entire shop, hauling heavy equipment.

“This is a beautiful facility,” McNerney said. “It’s state of the arts and, more importantly, it puts people to work.”

The ridership for ACE is currently at about 4,000 a day or as one dignitary puts it: “4,000 who decided to get out of their cars and took to riding the train (to get to work).”

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