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High-speed rail may zip thru Manteca
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STOCKTON – A high-speed rail system could someday zip through Manteca along the Union Pacific route.

That’s one of two proposals of the Sacramento-to-Merced alignment. The other is the Burlington Line, going from Stockton to Modesto via Escalon.

The public had a chance to provide input at Wednesday’s California High-Speed Rail Authority open house held in the San Joaquin Council of Government Regional Center.

According to deputy director Dan Leavitt, the public scoping was part of the process of articulating the purpose and need of the project.

“Funding will be the key,” he said.

A $10 million measure passed last November by voters would fund part of the Altamont corridor, Leavitt noted, with the California High-Speed Rail Authority and the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission having already agreed to work together on the proposed railway through the pass.

The new corridor could benefit riders of the Altamont Commuter Express – stops include Manteca/Lathrop, Tracy and Stockton – as these trains would share the same rail as that of the high-speed train connecting the Bay Area to the Central Valley.

“This could turn out to be like a super ACE (train),” Leavitt said.

The ultimate goal of the high-speed train is for the railway to “run up and down the spine of the state,” he added.

Leavitt and others connected to the project hope that, by 2020, travelers will have the high-speed option from San Francisco to Los Angeles. The trains would travel at speeds exceeding 200 miles per hour while running on an electrified track using renewable energy.

Federal funding could help make this plan a reality in the future, Leavitt said.

Meanwhile, Brent Ogden, the US Transportation Planning vice president, noted that each corridor is a segment to the plan of someday connecting the Central Valley to the Bay Area and Southern California.

The Sacramento-to-Merced corridor – regardless of the Escalon or Manteca options – would consist of four high-speed stations, including Stockton and Modesto.

For that, project scoping meetings are planned for today, from 3 to 7 p.m., at the Merced Senior Center, and next week (Amtrak Depot, model room, Sacramento, on Jan. 27, and the Modesto Centre Plaza on Jan. 28).

Comments and other input gathered at the four meetings will become part of the public record.