Trains connecting commuters to BART are envisioned to depart a station at River Islands in Lathrop every 30 minutes during peak hours in a plan that is gaining momentum to connect the Northern San Joaquin Valley to San Francisco via mass transit.
River Islands — which has been asked about its interest in donating land and building the station for the rail connection — is exploring asking permission to pursue a high density transit village around a possible station such as being developed in Pleasanton-Dublin and elsewhere on BART lines. The station would be sited where River Islands plans on building a 350-acre employment center that could create 16,800 jobs. That would enhance the viability of a reverse commute on the BART extension.
The new established Tri-Valley/San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority will conduct a pair of public workshops next month in Tracy and Lathrop. The purpose of the workshops is to provide an update on project planning plus provide the public an opportunity to review and comment on stations that are proposed for further planning and development.
The first workshop is scheduled for Monday, March 5, at 6 p.m. at the Tracy Transit Center, located at 50 East 6th Street in Tracy. The second workshop will be Monday, March 12, at 6 p.m. at Lathrop City Hall, located at 390 Towne Centre Drive in Lathrop.
Last month the San Joaquin Council of Governments covered a funding gap to allow a feasibility report expected to take 18 months to complete to proceed. The $300,000 shortfall was covered by the countywide Measure K half cent sales tax for transportation related needs.
Initial preliminary plans call for service to start from the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station to West Tracy with stops as Isabel to the west of Livermore and Greenville Road in Livermore. The future extension currently calls for two more stops in Tracy — one at Coral Hollow and the other in downtown — as well as River Islands and Stockton.
The rail connection of BART and ACE — the purpose of the Tri-Valley-San Joaquin Regional Rail Authority created by Assembly Bill 758 — will feature either diesel or electric multiple unit technology.
Within Tracy the system will utilize Union Pacific Railroad right-of-way. The trains will travel through the Altamont Pass on the historic Transcontinental Railroad right-of-way that’s now owned by Alameda County. It would then connect to BART by traveling down the Interstate 580 median.
Beyond providing a much sought after commuter link by many who live in the 209 and work in areas served by BART between Dublin/Pleasanton and San Francisco, the BART to ACE link would also connect 500 miles of commuter and intercity rail lines with more than 130 stations in the Northern California metroplex.
The project is in addition to efforts now underway extend Altamont Corridor Express service south to Ceres by 2023 and ultimately to Modesto using money the California Legislature set aside as part of the gas tax hike deal. The ACE extension will bring rail service to downtown Manteca Ripon and Modesto as well as Ceres in the first phase. Ultimately ACE stops would be added in Turlock, Atwater and Merced.
The Ad Hoc Committee meetings in the coming weeks addressing rail stations in San Joaquin County is chaired by Tracy Mayor Pro Tem Veronica Vargas. Other committee members include Manteca Vice Mayor Debby Moorhead, Lathrop Council member Paul Akinjo and Mountain House Community Services District Vice-President Bernice King Tingle.
Additional information on the rail authority is available at acetobart.org.
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