There are double tracks in Manteca’s future.
And as far as Manteca Mayor Steve DeBrum and Councilman Richard Silverman are concerned the city needs to get on board to take advantage of the pluses that will bring as well as address the drawbacks.
Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign legislation this week that finalizes the deal he made to up California’s gas tax by 12 cents a gallon to help pay for road repairs that was secured with setting aside $400 million to extend Altamont Corridor Express passenger service to Ceres.
The ACE Forward project overall to eventually extend service to Merced by double tracking 58 miles of the Union Pacific Railroad from Lathrop to Merced will cost $950 million.
That will initially involve six more trains that will stop in Manteca and then pass through in the morning and six more in the late afternoon and evening for the return commute. Those could be in service by 2024. The ACE trains are in addition to projected increased freight train traffic Union Pacific expects to see in the coming years.
Both will have a big impact on Manteca traffic and parking.
“We need to start looking for answers now,” DeBrum said, noting identifying solutions and putting them in place can take time.
DeBrum has already started contacting state and federal officials about Manetas’s need to have at least one overpass or underpass of the tracks to assure public safety during emergencies especially as the city is expected to grow from 77,000 to 125,700 by 2040.
Silverman agrees Manteca needs to start seeking solutions now as well as position itself to leverage ACE trains stopping at the Transit Center to help pump more life into the Moffat Boulevard corridor and possibly downtown Manteca as well.
Manteca is the only city along the proposed double tracking that has at-grade crossings besides Lathrop.
Lathrop, however, comes nowhere close to Manteca with its 10 at grade crossings.
Double tracking could eliminate some long blockages at crossings such as Woodward and Spreckels where double tracking exists but it is as a siding to get trains out of the way of trains heading in the opposite direction.
Freight trains would run on their own tracks when ACE trains are operating during the morning and afternoon commutes. At other times, though, freight trains are expected to use the second tracks.
ACE trains would mean the South Main Street overcrossing could be blocked as many as many as 12 times during work days as passengers embark and disembark from trains.
Then there is the issue of parking. The existing transit station can park just over 100 vehicles. ACE projects at least 1,500 will board ACE trains in downtown Manteca when service starts.
Silverman and DeBrum said the city needs to look for parking solutions that can be in place before the trains start rolling.
Possible solutions are a parking structure or additional parking lots along the Tidewater.
Silverman said the city should brainstorm and look at all possible solutions. among them could be using the corporation yard on Wetmore Street once the solid waste division relocates to the wastewater treatment plant when the food waste to fuel program is implemented. A parking structure along Wetmore could be connected with the transit station via a footbridge across the tracks.
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