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Ripon council backs $1.9B plan for new Altamont track alignment
ace ripon
The plan would straighten out curves and build tunnels to increase ACE train speeds crossing the Altamont Pass.

The Ripon City Council is supporting the Altamont Corridor Vision Phase 1 Improvement Program as part of FASTER Bay Area.

The $1.9 billion plan consists of the implementation of 8.6-miles of new alignment through the Altamont Pass (between Greenville Road and the San Joaquin County line) and a 3.5-mile tunnel which could enable trains to speed up to 125 mph, in turn, decreasing travel time through this section of the pass by 11 to 15 minutes.

ACE service is on target to be extended to Ripon by 2023 under a deal that increased the state gas tax by 12 cents. The deal will double track the Union Pacific line to Ceres where there will be stops in addition to downtown Manteca and Modesto.

“It is our understanding the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Bay Area Council, and SPUR are working in partnership to have FASTER Bay Area on the November 2020 ballot for Bay Area voters,” said Mayor Leo Zuber in his letter of support.

For the daily commuters, the Altamont Corridor connects the San Joaquin Valley to the Bay Area. It’s also one of the most heavily traveled, most congested, and fastest growing corridors in the Northern California.

The Bay Area Council estimates that congestion will increase by an additional 75 percent between 2016 and 2040.

In order to achieve both state and regional environmental and economic development goals, a passenger rail alternative is needed in the Altamont Corridor to “increase mobility by providing a sustainable transportation option, provide greater connectivity, and a better quality of life and access to jobs, educational opportunities and health care facilities,” Zuber said.

The Altamont Corridor Vision Phase 1 Improvement Program is the result of a partnership between San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (Altamont Corridor Express), Tri-Valley-San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority (Valley Link), and the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority.

Phase 1 also includes new ACE equipment and Bay Area station/alignment improvements for two additional ACE round-trips between the San Joaquin Valley and San Jose. 

The Altamont Corridor Vision Phase 1 Improvement Program calls for “safe, frequent, and reliable regional rail service by modernizing passenger rail” in the Altamont Corridor.

The improved infrastructure through the Altamont Pass would be separated from freight, double tracked, grade separated, and enable fast and frequent service – Phase 1 Improvement Program would be the first step towards the completion of the Altamont Corridor Vision, which is consistent with the 2018 State Rail Plan, 2007 MTC Regional Rail Plan, MTC Resolution 3829 from 2007, and the CHSRA’s Altamont Corridor Rail Project.

The Altamont Corridor Phase 1 Improvement Program would:

Substantially increase regional rail ridership in the Altamont (I-580/I-680) Corridor.

Reduce the amount of greenhouse gases and air pollution emissions by diverting trips that would have previously been taken by an automobile.

Reduce congestion on some of the Bay Area’s most congested freeways (I-580/I-680 Corridor).

Promote transit-oriented development throughout the Altamont Corridor.

The Altamont Corridor Vision Phase 1 Improvement Program could have a positive effect on the Northern California’s underserved priority and rural communities by providing a convenient and inexpensive alternative to daily commuters.