California signs off on grant to connect ACE, BART


Author:Rail News: Passenger Rail

California has approved a $750,000 grant to help connect the Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) and Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) rail systems.

The grants will help fund planning for the ACE-BART connection, according to a press release issued by the Tri-Valley—San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority.

The project’s first phase calls for building new rail from River Islands, Tracy, Mountain House and Livermore in Northern California to connect with a BART terminus. Later phases would include stops at Lathrop/Manteca and Stockton.

The new route, which would run along former Transcontinental Railroad right-of-way, would provide Stockton and Livermore residents a direct connection to BART.

The segment from West Tracy to Greenville Road in Livermore is expected to cost about $400 million, according to the Tri-Valley—San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority’s website.

The authority was established in 2017 when California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill to plan and deliver the ACE-BART connection, which will provide an alternative to driving along Interstate 580.

That highway system is one of the most congested freeways in Northern California due to a high volume of commuter, freight and other traffic, said Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, who also serves as chair of the Tri-Valley—San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority.

“With traffic on the I-580 expected to increase 60 percent in the near future, this is a very important rail connection that will not only improve our quality of life, but will also have a positive impact on our economy and the environment,” he said.

June 11-15, 18-22 Safari Summer Kid’s Camp!

At Sonoma County’s wildest science discovery day camp, each session provides five full days of wildlife learning and adventure! With a ratio of only 15 campers per counselor and all the excitement of the Safari West Wildlife Preserve, this camp is a sure-fire way to fill your young learner’s sunny summer days. On top of a week’s worth of activities, each camper will receive a souvenir t-shirt, a daily snack, take home crafts, and a safari experience at the end of the week!
Zooper Heroes – June 11-15

To infinity and beyond! Join us as we explore the super heroes from the movies and learn about their super powers, which are based on real-life animals! Campers will spend the week creating an up-cycled super suit and compete in the Wildlife Olympics!
Excavation Unknown – June 18-22

Grab your pick and shovel, we’re going on a dig! Join us as we explore the worlds of paleontology and archaeology through excavation and scientific experimentation. Campers will spend the week learning about animal anatomy and physiology as well as the scientific methods used by actual scientists.

Bay Bridge to test 24-hour bike and pedestrian path B

Author: Michael Cabanatuan

For 10 days in May, bicyclists will be able to take a midnight ride across the east span of the Bay Bridge. Pedestrians will get to take moonlight walks, too, weather cooperating.

The span’s 2.2-mile bike and pedestrian path, which travels from Oakland to Yerba Buena Island and is now closed between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., will open for 24 hours on May 10 and stay that way until May 19 at 9 p.m.

The all-night hours are intended as a test to see what will be needed to make 24-hour operation permanent, which has been the plan since transportation officials agreed to include a bike path on the bridge’s replacement span in the late 1990’s.

“We’ve been discussing it for a long time and this will give us an idea what we need as far as lighting, additional CHP officers and anything else,” said Bob Haus, a Caltrans spokesman.

While the bike path officially opened in September 2013, a few days after the first cars crossed the new east span, it’s only been available to bike riders and walkers during limited hours.

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SMART receives $21 million in state funding for its extension to Windsor

The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) District received $21 million in state transportation funds to construct the extension to Windsor. This grant, coupled with the proposed $40 million in funding from Regional Measure 3 (RM3), will allow SMART to complete the first of three northern Sonoma County extensions.

State Sen. Mike McGuire said, “The State couldn’t be more excited to make this latest investment in SMART, and to soon connect the residents of Windsor and northern Sonoma County with this fantastic service. We have been grateful to work with Chairwoman Fudge and the SMART Board on the proposal, and we are so appreciative to the Department of Transportation for their ongoing partnership.”

“This is a big day for SMART and for the Town of Windsor,” said SMART Board Chairwoman Debora Fudge. “We want to thank the California Secretary of Transportation and his staff, and our state legislators for funding this important connection for our north county residents. It is now essential that we all vote to approve Regional Measure 3 in the June election, which will fully fund the extension from the Sonoma County Airport Station to the heart of Windsor.”

RM3, which goes before voters on June 5, would increase tolls on seven state-owned bridges over a period of several years. It would generate an estimated $4.5 billion in funding over a 25year period for public transportation, highway improvements, and bicycle and pedestrian pathways. Funding for SMART’s Windsor extension is part of that funding plan.

The funding will allow SMART to move forward with the next phase of construction on the Windsor extension.
“This is an important step that moves us closer to completing our 70-mile vision, which includes expanding our SMART train service to Windsor, Healdsburg and Cloverdale,” said SMART Board Director Carol Russell. “This is a major milestone for all of our North Bay residents who have been waiting for a transportation option to northern Sonoma County.”

Since launching its passenger service in August, SMART has carried more than 465,000 passengers. SMART’s passenger train service currently serves a 43-mile corridor with stations in Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Cotati, Petaluma, Novato and San Rafael. Construction on the Larkspur extension is underway and is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.