Potential Yolo Rail Realignment Offers Positive Economic Benefits
(From Press Release) – Yolo County, the cities of Davis, West Sacramento and Woodland, and the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency are excited to announce completion of the Yolo Rail Realignment Economic Benefits Study.
Prepared with support from a 2014 U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant, the study analyzes the economic potential of relocating the rail line that runs through the centers of Davis and Woodland, and extending rail service to industrial areas in Woodland, the west side of West Sacramento and the Port of West Sacramento. Study findings show rail relocation could generate substantial economic benefit in Yolo County and align well with regional flood protection options currently being studied.
With last week’s U.S. EDA conference and the Sacramento Metro Chamber’s annual Capital-to-Capital trip this week, the timing and tangible outcomes of this collaborative effort are particularly meaningful for Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA-03) and Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA-06).
“I strongly encouraged this collaborative partnership to apply for the EDA grant to study this project during the Cap-to-Cap trip in 2013, because I saw the potential value it could bring our region,” said Congressman Garamendi. “This project demonstrates how federal support, regional collaboration and broader, more comprehensive analysis results in new opportunities to align major infrastructure projects that can reduce costs and increase regional flood protection, public safety and economic growth.”
“The more efficiently we are moving goods, the more our economy will grow, which is why I’ve worked with the EDA to fund the Yolo Rail Relocation project,” said Congresswoman Matsui. “The findings of this study reinforce the value of crafting multi-benefit, regional infrastructure projects that generate new economic opportunities that advance the entire region. Rail realignment could spur redevelopment and increase public safety, creating opportunities for new homes, businesses and jobs in our community.”
Economic growth opportunities, including redevelopment in urban corridors presently impacted by rail lines, increased rail access for agribusiness and industry and creation of sustainable employment were examined. Using a 20-40 year full-build-out timeframe, the study found net new commercial and residential development enabled by the phased rail relocation could generate between 38,700 to 53,200 ongoing jobs countywide and beneficial economic impacts projected at between $5.9 and $8.1 billion of annual output (market value of goods and services, including $2 to $2.7 billion of labor income).
Opportunities to significantly reduce the estimated $156-335 million project costs by integrating the rail relocation project with other flood control projects under consideration in Yolo and Sacramento counties were also identified. By eliminating 22 at-grade crossings, the project will improve access and increase safety. The relocated line will also allow for the proposed widening of the Sacramento Weir and Yolo Bypass, and will remove of the short-line rail trestle over the Yolo Bypass providing increased flood protection for the entire Central Valley.
The Yolo Rail Realignment Partnership will continue to seek state and federal funding to move this project forward.
From 2014 Press release
In July 2013, the Board of Supervisors authorized staff to form a workgroup with the cities of Davis, West Sacramento and Woodland, and the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency (SAFCA) to develop a recommended action plan for pursuing grant funding to study the economic benefits and feasibility of rail relocation in Yolo County. The concept of rail relocation has long been a topic of discussion in Yolo County, as it has the potential to create several benefits, and has garnered renewed attention in recent years because of its connection to flood control improvements and economic development objectives. In September 2014, the member agencies of the workgroup were awarded a $171,180 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration for technical assistance in preparing a rail line relocation study that would include an economic impact study and strategic implementation plan.
The workgroup then engaged a multidisciplinary consultant team, consisting of Economic & Planning Systems, Inc. (EPS); Nossaman, LLP (Nossaman); CH2M HILL; and The Tioga Group, Inc., to complete this study focusing on three main areas:
As shown on the attached map the study evaluates the benefits of replacing the three existing short line rail lines in Yolo County: the rail line running between Woodland and Davis which Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) leases to California Northern Railroad (CNFR), the Sierra Northern Railway line that runs eastward from Woodland across the Yolo Bypass and through the Elkhorn Basin into the City of West Sacramento, and the jointly owned Port of West Sacramento and UPRR line that connects the Westgate Yard to the Port of West Sacramento and the surrounding industrial districts with two new alignments.
One new line would extend along the northern perimeter of Woodland around the southwesterly edge of the Cache Creek Settling Basin (CCSB), through Conaway Ranch and the area west of the Yolo Bypass, and connect to the UPRR main line at Swingle east of Davis. This line would be available for joint use by UPRR and SERA and would allow abandonment of the UPRR/CNFR line through Woodland and Davis and the SERA line through the Elkhorn Basin and West Sacramento.
The second new line would extend from the westerly edge of the City of West Sacramento northward under Interstate 80 to connect with the UPRR main line at a new interchange yard. This line would allow abandonment of the Westgate Yard and the line connecting the yard to the city’s industrial districts and the Port of West Sacramento from the east.
The study found that the proposed relocation of the three rail lines identified above could provide the following redevelopment opportunities:
- Davis estimates net new development could total up to 2,230 residential units and 2.43 million square feet of commercial space
- West Sacramento anticipates net new development will include up to 7,250 residential units and 10.09 million square feet of commercial space
- Woodland estimates net new development will comprise up to 2,390 residential units and 1.15 million square feet of nonresidential space
In turn, this development, at build out, has the potential to generate:
- Between 20,900 and 29,100 job years (full and part-time)
- Between $3.7b and $5.2b of output (market value of goods and services, including labor income)
- Between $1.6b and $2.2b of labor income
Furthermore, the removal/realignment of the rail line also presents significant opportunity to advance regional flood control projects through the removal of the Fremont Trestle and a portion of the rail embankment directly north of the Sacramento Weir. Removing these features would facilitate improvements in the flow of floodwater in the Yolo Bypass and, in the case of the Sacramento Weir, would present an alternative to plans for a new Sacramento Trestle to support a planned weir extension accompanying a widened bypass. Additionally, the new proposed north-south rail alignment allows for potential rail access to the landfill and CCSB, which could allow for the transportation of sediment that has collected in the settling basin to be transported to the landfill and used as cover material, allowing the state to address a Total Maximum Discharge Load requirement imposed by the Regional Water Quality Control Board in October 2011.
The total cost of the rail relocation project is estimated at $157m-337m. However, the potential integration of the rail relocation project with proposed flood control projects could allow for significant cost avoidance. Integration of the rail project with expansion of the Sacramento Bypass could generate $25-30m which could then be reprogrammed for rail relocation efforts. Additional cost avoidance of $30-40m exists with the potential to transport sediment from the CCSB to the landfill by rail.
Given the significant flood control improvement aspects of the rail relocation project and the potential for a substantial portion of the project costs to be defrayed by the integration of existing flood projects, the study recommends a phased approach to the project to first capture the associated cost avoidance benefits. As such, Phase 1 of the project would be to remove and reroute SERA traffic from Woodland out of West Sacramento to permit removal of the rail embankment directly north of the Sacramento Weir. SERA traffic from Woodland then instead would use the proposed new alignment through Conaway Ranch and areas south to connect to the UPRR line at the Swingle Crossing.
Phase 2 would facilitate and complement redevelopment of the West Sacramento by removing the Westgate Yard and rerouting West Sacramento freight traffic out of the eastern portions of West Sacramento. This traffic would access the Port of West Sacramento via the UPRR mainline east of Davis, using a new rail connection between the UPRR mainline and the Port of West Sacramento spur rail terminus, which would include the construction of a new rail underpass at Interstate 80. The relocation of the rail lines through West Sacramento would allow for the removal of six at grade crossings and provide for redevelopment opportunities representing at least $2.4 billion in new assessed value or roughly 77 percent of the total new value that may be created by the project. Subsequent stages of Phase 2 would remove the existing rail infrastructure in the Cities of Davis and Woodland allowing for the closure of 16 at-grade crossings and allowing for the redevelopment of the rail corridor. The new line would reroute SERA and CNFR traffic to the Phase 1 alignment through Conaway Ranch and connect to a reconfigured track that would run along the outskirts of Woodland’s industrial zone to the north near the CCSB.