A Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) has been issued by the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC) consistent with the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) for the proposed Valley Rail Sacramento Extension Project.
This opens a 45-day public comment period where stakeholders are encouraged to review the document’s discussion of environmental issues associated with the proposed project and provide comments back to SJRRC, which is serving as the lead agency for the EIR.
The Valley Rail Sacramento Extension Project would expand Amtrak San Joaquins and Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) passenger rail services to the greater Sacramento area through the construction of six new rail stations and track improvements along the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) Sacramento Subdivision train tracks. The project includes the potential implementation of two new roundtrips of San Joaquins service operating on the Sacramento, Fresno and BNSF Stockton Subdivisions, as well as an extension of existing ACE service to the proposed Natomas Station. The project also includes service from the proposed Natomas Station to the Ceres ACE Station included in the ACE Extension Lathrop to Ceres/Merced project. The six new stations would be constructed in the following locations: Lodi, south Sacramento (to be named the “North Elk Grove” station), City College, Midtown Sacramento, Old North Sacramento and Natomas/Sacramento Airport (with a shuttle connection to and from the Sacramento International Airport).
In 2018, the California State Transportation Agency awarded approximately $500.5 million in grant funds for capital improvements in the Valley Rail Project, a coordinated plan by the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority and the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission.
The primary objectives of the proposed project are to:
- Expand passenger rail service to new markets in San Joaquin and Sacramento counties;
- Increase frequency of service;
- Increase passenger rail ridership;
- Reduce travel time between the San Joaquin Valley and the Sacramento area;
- Augment existing transit capacity and provide transit connections;
- Provide an alternative to automobile traffic congestion;
- Improve regional air quality;
- Reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; and
- Support local and regional land use development plans and policies.
The proposed project would also contribute to geographic equity by providing increased connectivity within the Central Valley, including Sacramento, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera and Fresno counties; the Bay Area; and the greater California rail network via two future high-speed rail (HSR) connections in Merced and San Jose.
SJRRC invites input on the DEIR from all relevant stakeholders and public agencies during this 45-day public comment period. Currently, there are three meetings tentatively scheduled to allow public presentation and discussion of the EIR, which can be found on SJRRC’s website.
SJRRC notes that SJJPA and SJRRC staff are continuing to monitor developments related to the coronavirus daily and participate in frequent updates from local, state and federal public health agencies and local jurisdictions. Out of concern for public health and safety, there is a possibility that open houses for the Valley Rail Sacramento Extension DEIR will be replaced with an online, virtual open house. Please check the project website for the most up-to-date information regarding open houses for the Valley Rail Sacramento Extension DEIR.