Valley Link — the rail line connector being pursued between North Lathrop and the BART station in Dublin/Pleasanton — could run down the median of Interstate 205 between Interstate 5 and Grant Line Road.
It is an alternative to sending Valley Link service through downtown Tracy.
The alignment down the interstate would make the $1.4 billion tab to put in place just the tracks and stations eligible for federal funding including the $1 trillion infrastructure bill Congress passed last year. The $1.4 billion price tag does not include the cost of acquiring trains.
Being able to advance the project in the Interstate 205 median along with two managed lanes — one in each direction — that the San Joaquin Council of Government is working on to widen I-205 to eight lanes can make the project more financially viable by improving the odds of snagging federal dollars.
There is already $750 million set aside to leverage federal funds.
The segment between Livermore and the BART station in Pleasanton/Dublin will go down the center of Interstate 580 making it also eligible for federal transit funds.
The Interstate 205 alignment alternative is currently being analyzed by the Tri-Valley/San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority. It is expected to be completed by late 2023. It also includes an operations and maintenance facility to the west of downtown Tracy as well as a station in Tracy.
The certified alternative adopted in May 2021 as the preferred alignment has stations in North/Lathrop (the Sharpe Depot on the Lathrop Wye for connection to ACE), River Islands, Downton Tracy, Mountain House, Livermore, Isabel Road and Dublin/Pleasanton. It also includes an operations and maintenance facility to the west of downtown Tracy.
Another alternative route segment being studied would swing the Valley Link line to the north after leaving the operation and maintenance facility in Tracy. The altrenative would relocate the Mountain House station much closer to the planned community that is almost at 30,000 residents with another 5,000 homes breaking ground in the coming several years.
Such an alignment would also straighten the tracks somewhat as they start up the Altamont Pass.
The study underway will weigh the cost, benefits, and impacts of the Interstate 205 versus the downtown Tracy alignments as well as the same concerns with the two alternatives for the Mountain House station alignment.
The goal is to eventually have Valley Link up and running by 2028.
The linchpin that would create a rail transit network connecting Merced, San Jose, San Francisco, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, Manteca, Lathrop, Ripon, River Islands, Stockton, Modesto, Turlock, Ceres, and Elk Grove along with other communities along the ACE, BART and Valley Link systems is the Union Pacific Railroad’s Lathrop Wye.
It is where the North Lathrop ACE transfer station will be built complete with parking ultimately for 3,400 cars just off Lathrop Road in eastern Lathrop near the Manteca city limits.
ACE service to Sacramento and San Jose from Ceres will start in 2023 with stops in Manteca, Ripon, and Modesto.
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