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CTC Awards $392.4MM for 10 Freight, Passenger Rail Projects (Updated)

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor

The California Transportation Commission (CTC) will distribute $392.4 million to 10 freight and passenger rail projects as part of its recent approval of $2 billion for 56 state projects that will reduce traffic, improve goods movement and increase transit service, among other measures.

The funding comes from three programs under California’s Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 (SB 1), which provides project funding of $54 billion through 2027: the Solutions for Congested Corridor Program, the Trade Corridor Enhancement Program, and the Local Partnership Competitive Program.

The Solutions for Congested Corridors Program, according to the CTC, covers projects “designed to reduce congestion in highly traveled and highly congested corridors through performance improvements that balance transportation improvements, community impacts and provide environmental benefits.” On the rail transit side, they include:

• The Bay Area Rapid Transit Train Control Modernization Program, $60 million. (Total project cost: $1.14 billion.) Through the addition of CBTC (communications-based train control), the project will enable closer headways so more trains can run per hour along the Transbay Corridor to and from San Francisco and the East Bay. (The complete Transbay project will also add 252 new railcars, a new storage yard at the Hayward Maintenance Complex to accommodate the new cars, and five substations to handle more frequent, longer trains.)

• The Placer-Sacramento Gateway project (along the I-80 Corridor), $67.1 million. (Total project cost: $135.1 million.) Work includes Sacramento Regional Transit (SacRT) light rail modernization (Blue Line) and station improvements (Watt/I-80), as well as bus, highway, street and trail projects.

The Trade Corridor Enhancement Program “funds infrastructure improvements on federally designated Trade Corridors of National and Regional Significance, on the Primary Freight Network and along corridors that have a high volume of freight movement, as determined by the Commission.” Among them:

• East Basin Rail Gateway Expansion: Fourth Track at Ocean (Port of Long Beach; city of Long Beach), $8 million. (Total project cost: $24.8 million.) The project will add a fourth track; realign and reconfigure 3,000 feet of three existing tracks and rail crossovers; and improve rail signals to increase the reliability and capacity of the connection between marine terminals and the Alameda Corridor.

• McKinley Street Grade Separation Project (city of Corona), $10.3 million. (Total project cost: $108.3 million.) A new four-lane grade separation will be constructed over BNSF double track near the McKinley Street intersection with Sampson Avenue.

Port of Los Angeles Fenix Container Terminal Intermodal Rail Yard Expansion and Modernization Project, $ 19.2 million. (Total project cost: $51.5 million.) The project will add five new working tracks just north of/parallel to the existing Fenix on-dock rail yard, including tail track (pavement and turnouts).

LOSSAN-SD Intermodal Improvement Program, $106.4 million. (Total project cost: $202.4 million.) Key capital improvements along the San Diego Subdivision of the 351-mile Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo (LOSSAN) Rail Corridor will facilitate additional freight rail service from the Port of San Diego to points state- and nation-wide and allow for future expansion of the corridor’s commuter and intercity passenger rail services. The U.S. Department of Defense has identified this corridor as part of the Strategic Rail Corridor Network (STRACNET) for its importance in providing access to the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and the Port of San Diego. (Last month, North County Transit District announced the release of the San Diego Pathing Study, outlining how to phase expansion of passenger and freight rail services along the 351-mile LOSSAN rail corridor, which moves some $1 billion in freight and more than 8 million Amtrak and COASTER and Metrolink regional/commuter rail riders in a typical year.)

• Port of Stockton Rail Bridge Replacement Project, $5.3 million. (Total project cost: $46 million.) An outdated, single-track wooden rail bridge will be replaced to serve existing and future rail traffic into and out of the port.

• The Stockton Diamond Grade Separation Project, $100 million. (Total project cost: $237 million.) The Stockton Diamond is said to be the busiest, most congested at-grade railway junction in California. The project is designed to improve operations and safety for Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) and Amtrak San Joaquins passenger trains and BNSF and Union Pacific freight trains using the shared right-of-way. This flyover construction project will grade separate the two north-south Union Pacific main line tracks from the two east-west BNSF main line tracks.

The Local Partnership Competitive Program provides funding to counties, cities, districts and regional transportation agencies in which voters have approved fees or taxes dedicated solely to transportation improvements or that have imposed fees dedicated solely to transportation. On the rail side, projects include:

• Windsor River Road/Windsor Road Intersection Improvement and Multi-Use Pathway Connector project, $2.8 million. (Total project cost: $8.1 million.) The project includes construction of a roundabout; pedestrian crossing improvements; and a multi-use pathway to ensure safety, functionality and throughput for the Windsor extension of the 43-mile SMART (Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit) commuter rail service. The extension is expected to launch in late 2021.

• South Watt Avenue Improvement: Florin Road to Jackson Road (Sacramento), $13.3 million. (Total project cost: $35 million.) This project will relieve congestion and improve mobility on a major arterial corridor in the region by upgrading a railroad crossing, widening and rehabilitating the roadway, adding bike lanes and pedestrian walkways, deploying Intelligent Transportation System components, and replacing a bridge over Morrison Creek, among other measures.

“These projects are going to benefit California in multiple important ways,” CTC Chair Hilary Norton said. “From an economic perspective, they will move people and goods more efficiently while creating over 100,000 jobs during one of the most difficult periods in our state’s history. From a climate perspective, they will move us toward a more inter-connected and multimodal transportation system that reduces greenhouse gas emissions by getting more people to take transit, walk or bike. This will be a game-changer for transportation in California, especially as the state moves toward making travel on all of these modes cleaner.”

The CTC received 130 applications for projects totaling $3.7 billion. CTC and California Department of Transportation staff evaluated them based on transportation, economic, environmental and other criteria established by legislation and through public workshops.

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