Valley Link rail project approved for environmental and design fundsWritten by Mischa Wanek-Libman, Editor, Railway Track & Structures; and Engineering Editor, Railway Age
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) Board allocated $10.1 million to the Tri-Valley – San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority at its Sept. 26 meeting to complete environmental work and initial design of the Valley Link rail project.
Valley Link is a planned project that would connect the Bay Area Rapid Transit District’s (BART) rapid transit system and the Altamont Corridor Express’ (ACE) commuter rail service. The route would use 12 miles of abandoned rail right-of-way and would initially extend from the planned ACE N Lathrop Station in the San Joaquin Valley through the Altamont Pass. A second phase would extend service from the North Lathrop Station to the ACE and Amtrak Stockton Station.
“This action is about connecting people with housing and jobs. It’s about improving our economy and protecting the environment,” said MTC Vice-Chair and Regional Rail Authority Chair Scott Haggerty.
The regional rail authority explains that the rail connection would provide a highly economic way to close a significant passenger rail gap, as well as improve the overall mobility in this key freight movement corridor between the San Joaquin Valley and the Port of Oakland.
Mayor Pro Tem Veronica Vargas of Tracy, who serves as the vice chair of the regional rail authority, commented “MTC’s decision demonstrates the megaregional approach that is being taken by agencies on both sides of the Altamont Pass to keep Valley Link rail service on track for a potential start date in 2024.”
In July 2018, the preferred alternative that included a phased implementation of service, station locations, service characteristics and vehicle technology was adopted.
Following environmental work and initial design, final design and construction will commence. Project construction is expected to take between five and seven years, meaning that the first Valley Link trains could be placed in service as early as 2024.