CalSTA Allocates $378.9MM for Rail Transit Projects

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
The Sacramento region has secured nearly $50 million in CalSTA TIRCP (Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program) grants for Sacramento Valley Station and transit improvement projects. (Rendering Courtesy of Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority)

The Sacramento region has secured nearly $50 million in CalSTA TIRCP (Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program) grants for Sacramento Valley Station and transit improvement projects. (Rendering Courtesy of Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority)

San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) and Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT) are among the eight California agencies that will share $378.9 million in TIRCP (Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program) grants from CalSTA (California State Transportation Agency) for rail-related projects.

CalSTA on July 7 reported that TIRCP would distribute $796.1 million to 23 projects statewide in an effort to expand transit and intercity rail service and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, “all projects are located within disadvantaged communities or low-income communities, and contribute direct, meaningful, and assured benefits to disadvantaged communities, low-income communities, or low-income households,” CalSTA said.

The TIRCP program is funded through Senate Bill (SB) 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017, and from Cap-and-Trade program proceeds. This is the first TIRCP award cycle to incorporate the Climate Action Plan for Transportation Infrastructure (CAPTI) into its guidelines, according to CalSTA, which last summer finalized the plan detailing “how the state recommends investing billions of discretionary transportation dollars annually to aggressively combat and adapt to climate change while supporting public health, safety and equity.”

Following is a list of award recipients for rail-related projects. (For all projects, plus details, scroll down for a PDF download.)

• BART: Awarded $49.9 million for the East Bay Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Mobility Enhancement Project, which includes greater bike and pedestrian access; new public spaces; and other improvements at the Lake Merritt, West Oakland, and El Cerrito Plaza stations. These projects will support TOD that will result in more than 2,000 new homes with at least 30% offered at below market rate. The grant will provide $12.9 million to relocate the Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) at Lake Merritt Station to make way for a development that includes more than 550 new homes in three residential buildings; $12.8 million for a new parking garage at El Cerrito Plaza Station, allowing for the development of 600-800 apartments on existing surface lots; and $4.5 million for new cycle tracks and a bike station at West Oakland Station, which are coupled with a development that will include 762 residential units, with a third of those dedicated to affordable housing.

“These investments will drive greenhouse gas emissions savings and reduce vehicle miles traveled by increasing ridership on BART at these sites,” BART General Manager Bob Powers said. “The developments will serve people of all income levels by linking housing affordability with access to opportunity.”

Of the $76.9 million total project budget, BART has secured $27.9 million of matching funds, representing 36% of the funding.

• Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) and partners, the city of Sacramento, Sacramento Regional Transit (SacRT), Downtown Railyard Ventures and Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG): Awarded $49.9 million for the Sacramento Valley Station (SVS) Transit Center: Priority Projects (see rendering above, courtesy of CCJPA). The projects are slated to improve connectivity between modes at the Sacramento Valley Station, as well as redesign commuter and intercity bus service to the SVS and downtown Sacramento to boost train and bus ridership. Among the projects’ components: design of a new bus mobility center to facilitate transfers between modes; realignment of existing light rail tracks into a loop with a new north-south-oriented platform just south of the Steve Cohn Passageway entrance as well as a new double-track alignment from the new platform to the intersection of F Street and 6th Street; construction of a new cycle track on H Street to improve access to the station; and construction of a new pick-up and drop-off loop. Also supported: the consolidation of downtown regional bus routes; and the purchase and installation of contactless EMV readers coordinated with the California Integrated Travel Project on rail and bus vehicles. Total project budget: $95.1 million.

“We are excited that the state shares our vision of the Sacramento Valley Station, underscoring the importance of passenger rail as part of mobility in the Sacramento region,” said Don Saylor, CCJPA Board Chair and SACOG Board member. “Their investment will not only establish the station as a transportation hub for the northern California mega-region, but also will increase the safety and reliability of our rail and transit systems, ultimately improving the overall passenger experience.”

• SacRT: Awarded $23.6 million for the Fleet Modernization Project. The grant will support the purchase of eight new low-floor light rail vehicles (LRVs) to further expand low-floor fleet operations. The LRVs are slated to produce operational efficiencies by speeding up train operating times, optimizing boarding convenience and safety, and increasing capacity. The project also supports sustainable housing and land use development. Total project budget: $47.2 million.

“SacRT is truly thankful for the 2022 funding from the California Transportation Agency’s Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program,” said SacRT Chair Steve Miller. “These funds put us one step closer to replacing our aging light rail fleet with entirely new and modern, low-floor vehicles that will improve accessibility for all riders.”  

• San Diego Metropolitan Transit System: Awarded $33.5 million for the Zero-Emission Transit Enhancement Project. The three project elements are: improvements to the 17.6-track-mile, 19-station Orange Line that will increase train speed and grade crossing safety and upgrade passenger information signs in stations; expansion of the 12th and Imperial Transit Center; and electrification of the MTS Imperial Avenue Division, which requires charging infrastructure for full transition to a zero-emission bus fleet by 2040. Total project budget: $41.9 million.

“We are very excited and grateful to our state officials for investing in San Diego’s transit future and our communities,” said Sharon Cooney, CEO of MTS. “The money from this grant will allow us to continue to modernize our system, rehabilitate and replace aging infrastructures, enhance safety for our riders, and increase ridership.”

• San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority (SFMTA): Awarded $116.1 million for the SFMTA Core Capacity Program. It will support implementation of the Muni Forward program on three key corridors (K, N and the 38R Geary lines) to enhance reliability, efficiency, travel times and rider comfort; two phases of the Train Control Upgrade Project, including upgrades from Embarcadero and 3rd Street to Muni Metro East; and the Muni Metro Modernization Planning Study, which will identify the next package of investments in Muni Metro capacity and reliability improvements. The full Train Control Upgrade Project will be conducted in seven phases to replace the more than 20-year-old automatic train control system (ATCS) in the Market Street Subway with a new communications-based train control (CBTC) system, with completion planned for 2031. The full project is also slated to expand CBTC coverage to the surface portions of Muni Metro, where signals and switches are independently operated in a first come, first serve configuration so that the entire system can be managed centrally with a single, modernized CBTC system. CBTC is slated to improve vehicle volumes by 20% through the Market Street tunnel and will for the first time provide the ability for centralized line management of the entire light rail system. Total project budget: $378.3 million.

• San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC) and San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority (SJJPA): Awarded $57 million for the Valley Rail Expansion: Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) Ceres to Turlock Extension project. Valley Rail is a joint program that includes improvements and expansions of both ACE and Amtrak San Joaquins that is focused on service between the San Joaquin Valley, Sacramento, and the Bay Area. The southern segment of Valley Rail extends ACE to Ceres, with plans to further extend ACE to connect with high speed rail at a multi-modal station in downtown Merced. The TIRCP award will fund projects associated with future ACE service between Ceres and Turlock, which according to SJRRC, is next step to reaching Merced ahead of California High Speed Rail initial operations. Total project budget: $163.7 million.

“The TIRCP investment in Valley Rail brings much needed funding to the San Joaquin Valley where residents need multi-modal travel options,” said Stacey Mortensen, Executive Director of the SJRRC and SJJPA.

• Sonoma County Transportation Authority (SCTA) with Petaluma Transit, Santa Rosa CityBus, Sonoma County Transit, Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) and Mendocino Transit Authority: Awarded $24.8 million for the Sonoma Regional Bus and Rail Connectivity Improvements project, which includes construction of the SMART Petaluma North commuter rail station at Corona Road, which will be the 13th station in the 45-mile SMART regional rail system; purchase of 30 zero-emission buses and associated charging infrastructure and passenger amenities for Petaluma Transit, Santa Rosa CityBus and Sonoma County Transit; and improved network integration among all application partners and other transit operators in Sonoma County, including contactless payment equipment for Mendocino Transit Authority. Total project budget: $53.8 million.

• Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA; Metrolink): Awarded $25 million for the Metrolink Perris Valley Line Capacity Improvements project. The grant will be matched with $32 million in federal funds previously secured by the Riverside County Transportation Commission. This will complete the funding for the 91/Perris Valley Line (91/PVL) improvements, which will ultimately allow for 30-minute bi-directional service. The improvements include an additional 2.7 miles of double track and a second platform at the Moreno Valley/March Field Station, along with an expansion and improvement of the Perris-South Station. The project builds upon Metrolink’s 2018 and 2020 TIRCP awards for SCORE (Southern California Optimized Rail Expansion), a $10 billion capital improvement program to upgrade the Metrolink system in time for the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Total project budget: $57 million.

“We are incredibly thankful to CalSTA for this generous grant award,” said Metrolink Board Chair Ara Najarian. “These 91/Perris Valley Line enhancements are another step toward making Metrolink a world-class transportation provider in time for the 2028 Olympics.”

“I congratulate all the TIRCP grant recipients as we work together to rapidly cut pollution from the transportation sector with faster, more frequent, more affordable and more reliable transit service that increases ridership and reduces our dependence on driving,” CalSTA Secretary Toks Omishakin said.

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