A $237 million rail project in Stockton that will help move commuters from Manteca to Sacramento faster and reduce the potential increase for more blocked crossings in Manteca as Union Pacific Railroad train traffic increases has been awarded a $100 million state grant.
The California Transportation Commission (CTC) grant will help fund the Stockton Diamond Grade Separation project. It is at a point just to the southeast of downtown Stockton where the main lines of both the Union Pacific and Santa Re railroads cross at grade. Traffic literally comes to a standstill on the UP line as is passes through Stockton when Santa Fe trains are passing through.
The Stockton Diamond already ranks as the most congested at-grade rail crossing in California.
The $237 million endeavor that already has secured a $20 million federal grant will involve building a flyover of the Santa Fe line for the UP tracks. This will eliminate rail congestion and allow for quicker movement of goods and rail passengers through Stockton.
It will also ease congestion at several grade crossings in Stockton for cars, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
The projection by UP regarding the number of trains that pass through Manteca that will increase in the future along with Altamont Corridor Express service starting from Ceres in 2023 with most trains taking commuters into Sacramento, means trains traveling the tracks that slice through the middle of Manteca will triple from an average of 20 to 60 a day.
That is the equivalent of a train on average every 24 minutes as opposed to the current average of once every hour and 12 minutes.
Both Union Pacific and Santa Fe have major intermodal yards in the Manteca area where truck trailers are transferred to and from train flatcars. Much of that rail traffic passes through the Stockton Diamond.
The UP facility is nestled between Lathrop and Manteca and accessed from Roth Road. It has been approved to almost triple in size to 2,186 truck movements a day at complete buildout that is expected in 40 years.
The 2001 expansion of the Santa Fe facility 12 miles northeast of Manteca between Austin and Jack Tone roads has increased that railroad’s intermodal capacity in San Joaquin County from 120,000 to 300,000 units annually.
“The San Joaquin Valley region plays an important role in California’s transportation system,” said Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin. “This critical project will help facilitate economic growth, reduce dependence on fuel, improve air quality in the region and reduce delays affecting freight and passenger rail.”
The Stockton Diamond impacts the frequency, reliability and potential expansion opportunity of ACE service and Amtrak San Joaquins passenger rail services that operate on the same rail lines.
The Stockton Diamond Grade Separation project is a critical element in San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission’s vision to expand intercity and commuter rail service between the San Joaquin Valley, Sacramento, and the Bay Area. SJRRC is currently in the planning and environmental phase of the $1 billion plus “Valley Rail” service expansion program for both ACE) and Amtrak San Joaquins. The Valley Rail Program will implement additional daily round-trips for the Amtrak San Joaquins service and extend the Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) service between Sacramento and Merced. It also supports converting the San Joaquins train and thruway bus network to renewable diesel fuel and is a key component to improving air quality in the region.
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