Reported by Chris Flescher, RailPAC, Salinas
New developments from Soledad, the Coast Daylight, Castroville, and a Projects update.
Presentation from City of Soledad representatives
Soledad is planning to buy some land from the UP railroad for a future station. Soledad recently finished creating master plans for several issues, like parks and schools. One plan dealt with transportation.
There are many potential users of a Soledad train station. The two prisons there have about 3000 employees. The Pinnacles Park, the wineries, and the Mission Soledad are popular with tourists.
The city general plan, for transportation, includes pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods and an intermodal transportation center in the downtown area.
Four planning areas for future growth may allow 50,000 more residents than there are currently in the city.
The city planners are working on design guidelines for Transit Oriented Development (TOD), and infill development near a future train station. Some students of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo are creating a plan for downtown TOD.
There is an interest in slightly relocating the rails through downtown, which would free up about 10 acres for an intermodal station and TOD.
Coast Daylight Update
There is a possibility of having stations in Pajaro, Salinas, Soledad and King City. That would result in four Monterey County stations used by the train.
UP will perform a capacity study for this project. The previous study showed that with certain improvements, there would be capacity for the Coast Daylight train.
TAMC would like to tell the state about the problems with the proposed 6 month timeline for UP studies. The state could possibly pressure UP to reconsider the 6 month rule. The concern is that in government, it is hard to get any kind of project going in just 6 months.
Castroville Station Update
TAMC is now actively working on a design for a station at what is called Site 1. There was once a station in that location.
TAMC is now considering 4 parking lot layouts and 3 platform locations.
UP apparently wants a center platform station, and that would be somewhat more challenging to design.
Because of the Coastal Commission opposition, TAMC has decided to drop consideration of Site 2 for the station. There are only a few people living near Site 1, but that presents more opportunities for future TOD. There are some unused industrial buildings nearby. If those buildings are turned into housing after the station is built, then fewer neighbors will be around in the near future who might oppose such a project.
One significant thing about the location of Site 1 is that it is right at the junction with the Monterey Branch Line.
At Site 2, a station will not go there, but that is still the location of a proposed pedestrian undercrossing. That project is continuing to move forward.
Projects Specification and Estimates
TAMC could lose $2-4 million (in STIP money) if they don’t move ahead faster. This is money for preliminary engineering. There is a time limit on this money. The preliminary engineering is one step of a larger contract.
TAMC wants to change the timeline slightly, so the preliminary engineering is split apart from the rest of the contract. This would probably allow TAMC to get federal money for a larger fraction of the entire project.
TAMC was ready to use this money for several years, but there was a concern that spending it at a certain time would hurt the “local match.”
It appears that TAMC will soon move into the main engineering phase.
The TAMC RPC approved what the staff recommended, which is to extend the contract with Parsons and to have Parsons perform the preliminary engineering on the original schedule.
One member suggested using native plants, when possible, when doing landscaping around the future stations.
On October 20, TAMC will make a presentation to the Monterey City Council on the issue of bus versus rail for that area. This will give TAMC a better idea of how the Monterey City Government feels about this issue.