Congress may clear the tracks for ACE

April 10, 2014 12:27pm

•  Bill creating new rail project for Altamont corridor proposed

•  “A smart investment in our region’s future”

A bill that could provide $450 million in federal funding to upgrade commuter rail service between the Central Valley and Silicon Valley has been introduced in Congress by Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton.

“The ACEForward rail program is a smart investment in our region’s future,” says Mr. McNerney. “It will create jobs, reduce traffic, and give folks a much faster way to get from the Central Valley to the Bay Area.”

The “Altamont Corridor Rail Improvement Act of 2014” would help fund expanding rail service between the Central Valley and the Bay Area.

The current Altamont Commuter Express (ACE) trains run weekdays from the Central Valley to the Bay Area but share tracks with freight trains and Amtrak. Sharing tracks limits the speed at which the trains can travel and adds delays to the ACE system.

Stuck behind slow moving freights or immobilized by faulty signals, an ACE commute can take hours and make it even slower than trying to commute by car using traffic-clogged I-580 and I-680.

The Altamont Corridor Rail Project would establish a dedicated 85-mile track for passenger rail services, with a capacity to carry 35,000 people each way. The train would potentially cut the commute time between Stockton and San Jose in half.

The legislation introduced by Mr. McNerney authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to provide up to $450 million in grants over the next decade for preliminary engineering, final design and construction of the Altamont Corridor Rail Project.

Stacey Mortensen, executive director of the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission, which manages ACE, says the legislation “directly responds to the needs expressed by our passengers and the employers that need the ACE alternative for their workers.”

“ACE has been a great success in bringing together San Joaquin County and the Bay Area. This region is ‘all aboard’ … to build on this success,” says Andrew Chesley, executive director of the San Joaquin Council of Governments.

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