Plans for the Altamont Corridor Express extension to Ceres means at least three — if not all — of the four trains serving the downtown Manteca station would require passengers to switch trains in Lathrop.
The proposed operational plan for trains is part of the upcoming environmental impact review process the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission is conducting as part of the effort to extend ACE service to Ceres by 2023.
The extension funded as part of the deal increasing the state gas tax will also include new stations in Ripon, Modesto, and Ceres as well as a bus bridge to Turlock, Livingston and Merced until such time the second phase of extending rail service to Merced is completed.
The first phase plan includes the need to make a decision on whether to relocate the existing Lathrop/Manteca station on West Yosemite Avenue a half mile south to McKinley Avenue just west of the Big League Dreams sports complex as well as build a new station in North Lathrop along the western most Union Pacific Railroad tracks. The other option is to leave the existing Lathrop-Manteca station in place while at the same time making track improvements at that station while building a new North Lathrop station.
The initial extension project would require a new connection between the Union Pacific’s Oakland and Fresno subdivisions. Currently tracks for the two railroad subdivisions cross west of Airport Way about a third of a mile south of Lathrop Road and two thirds of a mile north of Louise Avenue. Although the initial release from ACE about the project doesn’t specify exactly where that new connection will be made the logical location would be in the area north of the Manteca Unified district office complex.
2 operational scenarios
for service from Ceres
There are two operational scenarios for the first phase of the ACE extension to Ceres.
The first would involve four westbound trains from Ceres to Lathrop where passengers would have timed transfers onto the four westbound trains from Stockton to San Jose at the selected Lathrop area station. Four busses originating from Merced would connect with the train in Ceres. The process would reverse itself for the afternoon commute.
The second scenario would involve three trains originating from Ceres taking passengers to a Lathrop area station to transfer. The fourth train would travel from Ceres to San Jose with no need to transfer. The process would reverse itself for the afternoon commute.
Given how ACE trains run, someone from Manteca, Ripon or Ceres could not commute to Stockton via rail based on current operational runs. However, ACE has said that reverse commutes are a possibility in the coming years. That also would mean there is a possibility in the future for someone to catch a train in Manteca to commute to Modesto in the morning and make bus connections to continue their trip.
A North Lathrop station would provide that community with a ACE stop closer to population. The current Lathrop-Manteca station is about two miles from the edge of the nearest Lathrop neighborhood. The closest Manteca neighborhood to the existing station is a mile.
Even if boarding an ACE train in downtown Manteca to head over the Altamont Pass to Bay Area jobs requires a timed transfer at the Lathrop-Manteca station, it will significantly expand options for Manteca commuters. That’s because unlike the existing Lathrop-Manteca station on the western edge of the city it is located a block south of the geographic and population center of Manteca at Yosemite Avenue and Main Street. The Manteca Transit Center is also a bus transfer hub for Regional Transit as well as the Manteca Transit bus system. It is on the Tidewater Bikeway that allows travel by a separated bike path system as far south as Woodward Park and as far north as Del Webb at Woodbridge.
The Moffat Boulevard/Main Street also provides the opportunity for Regional Transit to provide commuter bus service at some time in the future to Escalon via East Highway 120/Yosemite Avenue to plug into both ACE train service and RT bus service into Stockton.
Advantages of moving
station south to
Manteca officials have been advocating shifting the existing Lathrop-Manteca station a half mile to the south on McKinley Avenue just north of where the extension of Daniels Street will connect with McKinley.
The location would have a number of advantages over the existing location.
uIt would be the closest ACE station to a major freeway given it would be within half a mile of the McKinley Avenue/120 Bypass interchange targeted to break ground in 2019.
uIt would be adjacent to the envisioned Lathrop Gateway Business Park the City of Lathrop has approved as a 384-acre employment center.
uIt would have the ability to have significantly more parking given the location would be on city land. The parking could also dovetail with municipal plans for the family entertainment zone.
The first phase of work also would double track the Union Pacific line that passes through Manteca and Ripon from Lathrop to Ceres. Existing track would be upgraded and new bridges built including over the Stanislaus River. There would also be a temporary layover facility for ACE trains built in Ceres.
The first phase is being financed with $400 million from Senate Bill 132 passed on April 12, 2017 that authorized the gas tax increase.
The second phase would involve extending tracks to Merced where a future connection could be made with the California High Speed Rail System. A permanent layover facility would be built in Merced. The second phase would include stations in Turlock, Livingston, plus Merced and possibly in Atwater as well.
The rail commission is requesting interested individuals or organizations to submit comments views on the scope of the environmental document.
Written responses and comments on the scope of the ACE Extension Lathrop to Ceres/Merced Project will be accepted until 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. Send written comments via email to ACEextension.email@example.com or by mail to San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission, Attention: ACE Extension Lathrop to Ceres/Merced Project; 949 East Channel Street; Stockton, CA 95202.
The commission will hold a public scoping meeting to provide an opportunity for SJRRC to explain the project and to give interested agencies, organizations, and individuals an additional opportunity to comment on the scope and content of the EIR. It takes place Monday, Jan.29, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Ceres Community Center Small Assembly Room, 2701 Fourth Street, in Ceres.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org