Events, News & Blog

California bullet train cost surges by $2.8 billion: ‘Worst-case scenario has happened’

The estimated cost of building 119 miles of bullet train track in the Central Valley has jumped to $10.6 billion, an increase of $2.8 billion from the current budget and up from about $6 billion originally.

The new calculation takes into account a number of intractable problems encountered by the state rail agency. It raises profoundly difficult questions about how the state will complete what is considered the nation’s largest infrastructure project with the existing funding sources.

The new estimate was presented Tuesday by Roy Hill, who leads the main consulting firm on the project, WSP (formerly Parson Brinckerhoff). Hill said the cost increases were mainly driven by problems including higher costs for land acquisition, issues in relocating utility systems, the need for safety barriers where the bullet trains would operate near freight lines and demands by stakeholders for the mitigation of myriad issues.

“The worst-case scenario has happened,” Hill bluntly told the rail authority’s board at its regular monthly meeting.

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Caltrain has begun performing pre-construction work for the Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project

Caltrain has begun performing pre-construction work for the Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project. Until the end of February 2017, the San Francisco-area commuter railroad will locate utilities, confirm soil conditions and test cables in preparation for the electrification project, which will electrify Caltrain’s corridor from San Francisco’s 4th and King Station to approximately the Tamien Station. The railroad also will replace its diesel-hauled trains with electric multiple units. The project team is slated to begin construction in summer 2017, according to a Caltrain press release. The overarching project calls for electrifying Caltrain’s corridor from San Francisco’s 4th and King Station to the Tamien Station in San Jose, Calif., along with replacing the railroad’s diesel-hauled trains with electric multiple units. Source: Progressive Railroading.

Regional Parks to Study Potential for Russian River Bike, Pedestrian Trail

 Spring Lake Regional Park cabin

Santa Rosa, CA  –  January 10, 2018  –  Sonoma County Regional Parks will receive a $620,000 state grant to study the feasibility of creating a bicycle and pedestrian trail along the lower Russian River.

Responding to community interest and safety concerns, Regional Parks requested the grant from the California Department of Transportation to evaluate the potential for a trail running parallel to but separate from River Road and Highway 116.

The 19.3-mile study area runs along the river between Forestville and Highway 1 and includes the communities of Mirabel, Hacienda, Odd Fellows Park, Rio Nido, Guerneville, Guernewood Park, Vacation Beach, Northwood, Monte Rio, Villa Grande, Mesa Grande, and Duncans Mills.

A multi-use trail would provide a safe walking and cycling alternative for commuters and visitors traveling the corridor, including children and families getting to and from Monte Rio and Guerneville elementary schools. A trail also would add to recreation options in the popular tourism area and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions created by the more than 11,000 daily car trips on the route now.

“The grant is a great first step toward creating a long-awaited path along this beautiful corridor,” said Fifth District Supervisor Lynda Hopkins. “A bike and pedestrian path would allow those who live in and love West County to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the lower Russian River while safely commuting to school, work or home.”

State officials notified Regional Parks of the award in December. The study could begin in the summer of 2018 and will include opportunities for residents, business owners and others to offer feedback on the potential linkages. Study findings would guide subsequent steps of trail design, acquisition, planning, environmental review, and fundraising.

The total estimated cost for the study is $793,500, with additional funding including $120,000 from the Northern Sonoma County Air Pollution Control District, $5,000 from the Sonoma County Regional Parks Foundation, $5,000 from the Monte Rio Recreation & Park District, $2,500 from the Russian River Recreation & Parks District, $1,000 from The Wildlands Conservancy, and $10,000 from the Sonoma County Advertising Program and local park mitigation fees.

Visit the project planning page to sign up for updates on the study and to see a map of study area.

Regional Parks has been awarded similar grants in recent years to study two other major bike and pedestrian trails. One is a proposed 13-mile trail between Sebastopol and Petaluma. That feasibility study is expected to be completed in March.  The other trail studied is a proposed 13-mile Sonoma Valley trail connecting Santa Rosa and Sonoma. That feasibility study was completed in 2016 and identified a preferred trail alignment that could be built in phases as funding becomes available.

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Fulton Road Sidewalk Improvement

The city of Santa Rosa Transportation and Public Works Capital Improvement Projects team has designed sidewalk improvements along Fulton Road from College Avenue to Santa Rosa Creek Greenway Trail to complete the sidewalk gap. The new pathway installation is adjacent to Sequoia Gardens and will improve pedestrian access to the Greenway Trail and improve convenience for pedestrian traffic in the area. The pathway is designed to curve around existing redwood trees as it connects with the Greenway Trail along the Santa Rosa Creek. Additional improvements include new accessible curb ramps, and providing a pad for a potential bus stop in the future.

Completion of this project is weather dependent. However, if the rain holds off crews should have the project completed in two weeks.

Maps and Additional Information on this Project


SMART is up and running!

The first Operating Segment of the Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit train is up and running!  And what a beautiful, smooth ride.   The scenery is beautiful.  Vineyards north of Santa Rosa and estuaries filled with birds along the Petaluma River and estuaries.

Trains travel from the Airport Blvd. Station to the Transit Center in downtown San Rafael with two stops in Santa Rosa, one in Rohnert Park, one in Cotati, one in Petaluma, two in Navato and two in San Rafael.  The full trip takes about an hour and seven minutes.

Construction crews have already begun work on the extention from San Rafael to Larkspur.   Many segments of the SMART Multi-use pathway have also been completed.  A number of bike trails can be accessed from the SMART stations and you can take your bike onboard.

Work still needs to be done to better coordinate local bus times and routes.  However, progress is being made.  Convenient shuttle buses to the Charles Schultz Airport, to Santa Rosa downtown parking and to the Larkspur Ferry Terminal are up and running.

Demand has been so strong that SMART has added a third unit to some of the more popular trains.  You can find current schedules and information on stations, fairs and shuttles on the SMART website here.