On March 3, 2011, the Transportation Agency of Monterey County (TAMC) led a tour of the rail line from San Jose to Soledad. Elected officials, agency staff and other interested persons rode the Amtrak Coast Starlight from San Jose to Soledad, with a stop in Salinas.
Dave Potter, Monterey County District 1 supervisor and Chair of the TAMC Rail Policy Committee, noted, “The train system just to the north of us in the San Francisco Bay Area is well-developed, and we have two projects in the works that would help us to have better connections to that system. This tour helps show how important it is for us to establish this new connection, to provide another way for people to get between Monterey County and the Bay Area.”
Monterey City Councilmember and Rail Policy Committee Vice Chair Frank Sollecito agreed, “This was a wonderful opportunity for us to see where the train tracks go through Monterey County, and how a new Coast Daylight or commuter train would be a convenient, easy and comfortable travel option for Monterey County residents or visitors. The views were great, and the trip went beautifully.”
Special Soledad Stop
Of particular interest to the decision-makers on board, the train made a special stop in the City of Soledad. The train pulled in at the future site of the Soledad Coast Daylight Station, which was the historical site of the Southern Pacific Train Depot. Currently, the site is a park and ride lot. The City is planning to make improvements to the station area, including the construction of an 800-foot long platform with shelters and changes to the tracks, in order to facilitate the future Coast Daylight train stopping in Soledad.
Amtrak “Coast Daylight” Service
Tour participants learned about the proposed Amtrak “Coast Daylight” service, which is planned to be daily operation of new state-sponsored Amtrak service along the Coast Rail route between downtown Los Angeles and downtown San Francisco. The service is being proposed to close a gap in existing train services, serve travel demand between Los Angeles and San Francisco, improve mobility for visitors and millions of Californians living in counties served by the new train, enhance goods movement and economic development at stations along the route, and provide environmentally sound transportation for a variety of travel markets and needs.
Rail Extension to Salinas
The tour also was relevant to the Transportation Agency’s proposal to extend the commuter rail system from San Francisco Bay Area to Salinas. Such a service would be operated by Capitol Corridor or Caltrain, and would relieve congestion and provide transportation alternatives for commuters and those seeking access to health care and education. This proposed service would start in 2014 with two to three round trips and expand to four to six round trips as demand warrants. Improvements that are planned as part of the project include a Salinas layover facility; platforms, parking and bus bays in Salinas, Pajaro/Watsonville and Castroville; and track improvements to the mainline track and at station areas.
Photo Credits: Christina Watson, TAMC: Boarding Starlight in San Jose, Flowers and Field
Alan Miller, Caltrans: Steven McHarris in Soledad
The Transportation Agency for Monterey County (TAMC) is responsible for investing in regional transportation projects for Monterey County residents, businesses and visitors. The mission of TAMC is to develop and maintain a multimodal transportation system that enhances mobility, safety, access, environment quality and economic activities in Monterey County. For more information visit www.tamcmonterey.org or call 831.775.0903.