California state transportation officials allocated nearly $11 million in high-speed rail funds this week to shore up the infrastructure for existing passenger rail service passing through Stockton to other points in Northern California.
Approved by the California Transportation Commission on Wednesday, the money will pay for 2.6 miles of track to connect the downtown Cabral Station used by the Altamont Commuter Express to a maintenance facility north of the station.
The $61 million project on 64 acres north of the downtown station is the biggest construction for ACE in the rail service's 14-year history. It's also important in efforts to build a statewide bullet train, because building the track is a step toward improving and growing service for ACE and other passenger trains through Stockton, transportation officials said.
Improving regional rail attracts more riders, and strengthens a system that includes high-speed rail, High Speed Rail Authority CEO Jeff Morales said.
The emphasis on regional rail has grown in the recent revision of the high-speed rail business plan, but it was there when voters approved Proposition 1A in 2008. About one-tenth of the $10 billion rail bond was slated to go to regional rail systems.
The ACE line between San Jose and Stockton dead-ends at the Cabral Station, so at the end of the day, the trains backtrack south over well-used freight lines to get to maintenance.
The new maintenance facility is under construction north of the station. The San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission already has the money to build the facility and a bridge over Miner Street to get there. The bridge also will have a walkway for pedestrians. But the latest $11 million pays most of the cost to build the actual track, said ACE spokesman Thomas Reeves.
When finished, Amtrak trains can pull into the Cabral Station on the way between Bakersfield and Sacramento. Those trains now load and unload passengers on Weber
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