There has been a lot of talk in the past year or so about the possibility of relocating the north-south rail line that currently crosses through the city of Davis and runs up to Woodland. Talks have been proceeding and Rob White last spring reported, “We have received positive federal feedback on our efforts and will be submitting a joint grant application with Woodland, West Sacramento, Yolo County and the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency at the end of May.”
That effort has now received an enormous boost, as a grant application that was submitted has been approved, the City of Davis announced today in a press release.
“The City of Davis, along with the Cities of West Sacramento and Woodland, Yolo County and the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency (SAFCA) are excited to announce a grant award from the US Economic Development Administration in the amount of $171,180,” the city announced. “The grant is for technical assistance in preparing a rail line relocation study that will include an economic impact study and strategic implementation plan, including a stakeholder and public outreach component.”
According to the city, the multi-agency, collaborative study will analyze the economic potential of relocating the existing rail line that currently runs through center of the cities of Davis and Woodland and extending rail service to a 900-acre industrial park in the City of Woodland and to the west side of the City of West Sacramento and the Port of West Sacramento.
The study will focus on the opportunities for economic growth related to increased rail access for agribusiness and industry, redevelopment of urban corridors presently impacted by rail lines, and new sustainable employment.
“This is very exciting as our Yolo County communities work together for the betterment of our region,” stated Davis Mayor Dan Wolk. “It enables us to assess the potential economic benefits and redevelopment opportunities that might result from the removal of the rail barriers currently dividing our cities and downtowns. The grant will also allow us to more thoroughly assess impacts from flooding that might be addressed through rail line relocation in several parts of Yolo County. Pursuing a comprehensive analysis of the enhanced economic opportunities that rail realignment may offer will allow us to create solutions that will better our Yolo cities and our region.”
Beyond the potential economic opportunities arising from relocating the rail line, the city indicated, “the relocated line will improve and increase rail safety by eliminating more than a dozen at-grade crossings in Woodland and Davis.”
Furthermore, “the proposed rail relocation alignment will allow for the removal of the short-line rail trestle over the Yolo Bypass providing increased flood protection for the entire Central Valley.”
It was during the 2013 Sacramento Metro Chamber Capital-to-Capital trip that Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA-03) encouraged the City of Davis and its regional partners to apply for this grant and he has been strongly supportive throughout the process.
“This EDA technical assistance grant will allow Davis, West Sacramento, Woodland and Yolo County to move forward with a project that has the potential to generate significant economic development and jobs and provide numerous other benefits, including increased public safety and flood protection,” said Congressman Garamendi. “This project is a great example of regional cooperation – several government entities coming together to tackle a large economic development project that has the potential to lift the economic prospects of the entire county. I commend city and county officials on securing these funds. I look forward to continuing to partner with them as we build a regional economy that creates opportunities for hardworking Yolo County residents.”
The City of Davis and its partner agencies look forward to proceeding with the study and shall be releasing an RFP for relevant professional economic development consulting services shortly, the city added.
At Cap-to-Cap, the Metro Chamber indicated that they had submitted a cost benefit analysis request of $165,000 from the US Department of Commerce.
At the time they described: “The Yolo Freight Rail Relocation Project includes construction of new rail enabling the relocation of short-line rail traffic in downtown Davis, Woodland and West Sacramento. Completion of the project will allow removal of 19 at-grade crossings and open nearly 100 acres of infill redevelopment property in the three cities, allow removal of the Fremont Trestle to improve the floodwater flow capacity of the Yolo Bypass and increase cargo capacity and operational efficiency at the Port of West Sacramento and within Yolo County.”
They continued, “The proposed project’s next phase includes an economic development cost benefit analysis and alignment study establishing the specific route for the new rail. Later stages include an environmental assessment to ensure that the proposed alignment will avoid sensitive areas, complete project design and engineering, full environmental documentation and a comprehensive cost estimate. The project is currently pursuing an Economic Development Administration Grant to fund a cost-benefit analysis for the project.”
—David M. Greenwald reporting