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High speed rail crossroads
Manteca may end up at epicenter of bullet trains
An artists rendering of what high speed rail over the Altamont Pass could look like on a proposed Altamont Corridor Express line. - photo by Photo Contributed

Manteca is on track to be impacted by high speed rail.

Andrew Chesley is sure of it.

“High speed rail makes sense for California,” the executive director of the San Joaquin Council of Governments told Manteca Rotarians recently during a meeting at Ernie’s restaurant.

Often dubbed “The Crossroads of California”, Manteca may become the only city in the state that eventually is at the crossroads of high speed rail.

Two of three high speed routes that ultimately will connect Sacramento with Los Angeles could impact Manteca. Then there is the Altamont Corridor Express that is authorized under language in the bonds approved by state voters to compete for high speed rail funding for the Bay Area to connect with Merced and Sacramento.

Chesley expects the process of determining the exact route for high speed rail in the Manteca area won’t get underway until at least 2025.

The three routes are:

ufollowing Union Pacific Railroad’s existing corridor through Manteca. Typically in urban areas high speed planners are calling for putting the trains in “trenches” such as has been done in downtown Reno for heavy rail.

uskirting the eastern edge of Manteca roughly a half mile or so east of Austin Road.

ufollowing the Santa Fe Railroad line through Escalon. This route includes some type of elevated tram operation to whisk Stockton passengers to a station located miles to the east of that city.

In addition there are two general routes on the table so far for high speed ACE service between Merced and San Jose via the Altamont Pass.

uOne goes down the center of the existing Highway 120 Bypass and continues eastward past Highway 99 in the corridor identified for a future extension of the 120 Bypass to the Escalon area. Once in Escalon trains would follow the Santa Fe Railroad corridor into Modesto.

uThe other also goes down the center of the 120 Bypass the curve southward after crossing Highway 99 and rejoins the Union Pacific corridor in the vicinity of the proposed McKinley Avenue interchange about a mile south of Austin Road to continue south through Ripon into Modesto.

Both options call for a high speed rail station on the Highway 120 corridor in Manteca with the location most likely being at Main Street.

 There are two routes being considered through Lathrop for the San Jose to Stockton and ultimately Sacramento service.

uOne would skirt River Islands at Lathrop and travel along the Interstate 5 corridor with a station at Louise Avenue.

uThe other would follow the existing ACE alignment into Stockton via the Lathrop/Manteca rail station at West Yosemite Avenue.

The California High Speed Rail trains are capable of speeds up to 220 mph that would only be attained in “isolated” stretches such as between Merced and Bakersfield. It would make it possible to travel from Stockton to Los Angeles in one hour and 59 minutes with the system designed to ultimately handle a train every five minutes.

The only stops on the Sacramento to Merced leg would be Sacramento, Stockton, Modesto and Merced. It is designed as the second phase of the system which will first include a San Francisco to Los Angeles “backbone” that would enter the San Joaquin Valley via Pacheco Pass with stops in Merced, Fresno, Bakersfield and then the Los Angeles area. Another phase would run from Los Angeles to San Diego.

Work has already started on the California high speed rail line’s first segment. It is being built in the Southern San Joaquin Valley between the small town of Borden and then head north to connect with a new station in Fresno and another east of Hanford before ending Corcoran.

The high speed Altamont Commuter Express train project is moving forward in tandem with the state high speed rail would also send the sleek, modernistic trains through Manteca with two possible routes in a proposal to extend servcie to Modesto. Those trains, however, will operate at lower speeds as they will use grade level crossings as opposed to new tracks in the Altamont that will take travel from 10 mph to speeds close to 150 mph. The ACE trains would reduce the trip from a little over two hours and 10 minutes down to 55 minutes.