The day is coming down the tracks when you can catch a train in Manteca, Ripon, and Lathrop and travel to jobs not just in the heart of the Silicon Valley but the Sacramento region as well.
The California State Transportation Agency Thursday awarded a $500.5 million grant to fund what ultimately will be a network of 568 miles of track to create what will arguably be the West Coast’s largest connective heavy rail passenger system designed primarily for commuters.
It essentially ties together one of the nation’s biggest economic juggernauts — the Northern California Mega Region — and puts South San Joaquin County at the heart of tying San Jose, Sacramento, Merced, and Bakersfield plus points in between together by rail.
The Valley Rail Project endeavor by the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority and the San Joaquin Rail Commission funded by Senate Bill 1 that put in place the 12 cent a gallon gas tax increase will dramatically improve passenger rail service in the mega-region in terms of connectivity and frequency using both the Amtrak San Joaquin’s and Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) service.
It includes upgrades to 449 miles of existing tracks and adds 119 new track miles.
The funds will allow:
The building of new shared San Joaquins and ACE stations in Lodi, Elk Grove, Sacramento City College, Sacramento Midtown, Old North Sacramento, and Natomas which will include a shuttle connection to the Sacramento International Airport.
New ACE stations will be built in Ceres, Modesto, Ripon, Manteca (primarily adding passenger platforms and parking for the station on Moffat Boulevard), and North Lathrop.
The launching of San Jose to Sacramento commute service by 2020.
The start of Ceres (including stops in Manteca, Ripon and Modesto) service by no later than 2023.
Four trains starting in Ceres and stopping in Modesto, Ripon and Manteca with three heading up to Sacramento (with a transfer to San Jose in Lathrop) and one direct route to San Jose by no later than 2023.
Two new San Joaquins round-trips between Fresno and Sacramento, on top of the two round-trips currently available.
Total rail service between Stockton and Sacramento will be nine round-trips across all available routes and service providers, including one Sacramento to Stockton only round-trip.
ACE to procure zero emission electric buses to support feeder service between Merced and Ceres, and rolling stock for both corridors to support service increase.
The grant is coordinated with 2016 TIRCP investments that are already being implemented in order to expand platforms to accommodate longer 10-car trains to add capacity on the four ACE round trips that currently cross the Altamont Pass.
The possible relocation of the Lathrop-Manteca ACE station closer to the 120 Bypass near where the tracks cross McKinley Avenue.
“This TIRCP grant will revolutionize the way that the SJRRC can grow by adding new service that would now include Sacramento for ACE and adding additional trains for the Amtrak San Joaquins. The State of California recognizes the important part the SJRRC plays in connecting the Central Valley, Bay Area, and State Capital, and we are grateful for their support,” said Lathrop City Councilman Steve Dresser who chairs the, San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission.
Leaders have called the endeavor transformative for the region with its promise to help ease commutes, reduce pollution and tie the mega-region together.
This project would not be possible without SB 1,” noted Vito Chiesa, Chair of the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority and Stanislaus County Supervisor. “With this funding, we will be able to move quickly in implementing an incredibly important transportation project that will better connect communities, improve mobility, reduce congestion, improve air quality, and support a good quality of life.”
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