Downtown Manteca — and Ripon as well — are on track to have Altamont Corridor Express passenger train service by 2023.
That is thanks to a deal cut in the California Legislature as part of a $54.2 billion tax and fee package approved Thursday to address the state’s growing backlog of pressing road and bridge repairs. State Senators Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, and Anthony Canella, R-Ceres, along with Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, engineered the deal in order to secure their votes for the hike in gas taxes and increase in vehicle registration fees to raise the $54.2 billion.
The bill includes $400 million to extend ACE to Merced. ACE officials expect to have train service up and running by 2023 to Ceres with stops along the way in Modesto, Ripon, and downtown Manteca.
The funds are necessary to make improvements to expand ACE service, including new track, stations, and trains. ACE is expected to extend to Ceres by no later than 2023. The ACE Forward environmental process has cleared various near term projects and is in the process of clearing the remaining sections of the project expansion.
“We are excited to expand service into Stanislaus County and ease congestion on Highway 99,” said San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission Executive Director Stacey Mortensen.
Among the ultimate direct impacts ACE Forward could have on Manteca, Lathrop, Ripon, and Tracy by 2025 includes:
uSix ACE train round-trips between Merced and San Jose on doubled tracks through Manteca. That means 12 more trains will pass daily through Manteca’s 10 at-grade crossings. There would be almost 300,000 riders a year boarding trains in downtown Manteca.
uSix daily trains would stop at the downtown Manteca Transit station at Moffat and Main in downtown.
uA station at River Islands would replace the existing Lathrop/Manteca station.
uA Ripon station could be added would have just under 250,000 annual boardings.
ACE Forward was born after the California High Speed Rail Commission opted to get their service up and running by building high speed rail tracks between Merced and the southern part of the San Joaquin Valley. At those two points connections will be made with upgraded conventional rail service to reach the Los Angeles Basin and the San Francisco Bay Area. It is part of a blended system designed to get high speed rail service up and running within the next five to 10 years.
uThe Tracy stop could be shifted to that city’s new downtown transit station. Tracy — which is now the heaviest stop for passenger service with 350,000 riders a year — would still claim that distinction in 2025 with 900,000 riders.
uModesto would have the second highest riders on the ACE system with just over 800,000. There would be almost a million a year boarding in Merced but almost four-fifths would be transfers from the high speed rail.
uCommuters from communities to the east of Manteca along the 120 corridor running up into the foothills would no longer be able to access trains at the Lathrop/Manteca station since it would be relocated to River Islands making the downtown Manteca the closest stop for them. That would add to parking pressures for the downtown Manteca station.
uThe 58-mile extension to Merced from Lathrop would require double tracking given ACE can’t use Union Pacific tracks as it is one of the most heavily congested freight tracks in California. ACE would use the new track predominately during passenger operating hours. At other times it could move Union Pacific freight.