Rail Relocation Study Complete

Train Blocks Traffic in Downtown Davis
Train Blocks Traffic in Downtown Davis

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:

1. Redevelopment Opportunities (led by EPS)
2. Economic Benefit (led by EPS)
3. Funding Sources (led by Nossaman)

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.


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55 thoughts on “Rail Relocation Study Complete”

        1. South of Davis

          David wrote:

          > Strip mall from the train station to downtown Woodland.

          We could put apartments above the mall to make it a “mixed-use” center…

  1. Michael Harrington

    Ten story apts with air walkway connecting flat roofs all the way north ?

    Seriously, this is is gonna be THE political battle for the next ten years

    My friends want a ribbon park all the way up north

    1. ryankelly

      A bike path between Davis and Woodland.  That’s what I hear is the plan.  However, just moving the tracks doesn’t mean that the railroad won’t still own the land.

        1. ryankelly

          I know, but moving the tracks provides an opportunity for a safer way to get to Woodland from Davis on a bike.  However, would the railroad allow access?

        2. Alan Miller

          I know, but moving the tracks provides an opportunity for a safer way to get to Woodland from Davis on a bike.

          Arrg.  There is already a plan out there to keep the rails and build a parallel bike path.  Expensive yes, but compared to this?  Pennies!  The bike trail, as per the recent plan, is NOT included in the cost, and in order to justify the outrageously-stated economic benefits, the bike trail ends in north Davis, and the rest of the way from Cannery to Amtrak is high density highrise housing connected to adjacent properties.  Who elected the consultants our high-density  zoning changers?

          By far the highest use of the bike trail would be from trips in town, from Cannery / North Davis / H Street tunnel connection to Downtown — and the infernal consultants destroy this transit corridor and the potential for a bike path and propose a giant wall of high-density to make their eco-numbers look good. The number of bikers on a inter-city trail between Davis and Woodland would be relatively small, but that’s all the consultants leave us.

          Promise:  over my dead body will the N-S transit corridor through Davis be anything but a railroad or a bike path — and ideally it will be both.  See Santa Cruz, East Side Seattle, Sonoma-Marin, Chico –>  Rails WITH Trails.

        3. Alan Miller

          Also, the righ-of-way reversion law is quite complex.  In some cases the righ-of-way reverts to the previous land owners.  Rails-to-trails law supersedes this, but a decision a few years ago by the supreme court overturned this for certain types of deeds, the details of which are beyond my legal knowledge.  The seed was over a particular line in southern Wyoming.  The Davis Woodland line is quite early, about 1867 or so.

  2. Michael Harrington

    Matt, what’s your opinion about this ? I know you extensively studied it several years ago. Would you please write a factual summary of the history?

    David: is there an established online repository for the entire planning file?  If not yet, should be one soon



      1. Alan Miller

        Much more than that, it’s an economic cheerleading study (justification) for a plan 40 years out.  That would be like someone in 1976 studying the economic opportunities available through a infrastructure project being built today.  How close do you think they would have hit it?

  3. Michael Harrington

    That’s the point … The people have to get involved before it’s “formalized” into a massive giveaway to developers and the real estate industry.

    1. South of Davis

      Mike wrote:

      > The people have to get involved before it’s “formalized” into

      > a massive giveaway to developers and the real estate industry.

      Hopefully we can get the “Rails to Trail” people involved (so our kids can ride to Costco with a trailer and not have to worried about getting killed).


      1. Alan Miller

        I met with a couple of the western regional representatives for Rails to Trails a couple of months ago to alert them of the plan.  Mainly to put it on their radar and solicit knowledge on how to derail the idea.  I’m not for moving the rails, I’m for adding a trail.  A Woodland man has already mapped this all out, section by section.

        1. Matt Williams

          Same questions to you Alan as I posed to hpierce.


          — How wide is the typical bike path in the Davis greenbelt system?


          — How wide is the Union Pacific right of way?  (I realize it varies by location, but on average what is it?)

        2. Alan Miller

          With minor will to live with lunch:

          Standard rail right-of-way is 100′.  That is not universal.

          Through downtown it varies from about 40′ to 70′ due to long-term leases to nearby businesses.

          Have to ask someone else what the standards and realities are for bike paths – such as a city employee who’s job that is.

        3. South of Davis

          I just used the (real cool) “measure distance” feature in Google Maps and it says the railroad it is 64 feet between the Hibbert Lumber fence and the Hibbert Door shop fence (just north of 5th).  It says the bike path (and shoulders) is about 80 feet between the Royal Oak Mobile Home Park fence and Hamel Lane fence in South Davis.  Anyone else can measure any other parts of the railroad, the bike path (or anything else anywhere in the world) using the Google “measure distance” feature.

        4. Matt Williams

          I used that same Google Earth distance tool and got 10 feet for the bike path that travels  between the Royal Oak Mobile Home Park and Hamel Lane fence in South Davis. The remaining 70 feet are greenbelt, not bike path.  The bike path that crosses the top of Nishi is 14 feet.

          Your number at Hibberts sounds about right.  Up at Nishi it is 100 feet.  Back in 2012 I put together the following data chart of what the right of way consists within the City Limits.

          City Limits

          100′ UP Right of Way along Covell Village

          3.402 acres

          End of Drainage Easement

          150′ drainage easement plus 100′ UP Right of Way along Covell Village

          6.074 acres

          Top of Cannery

          150′ drainage easement plus 100′ UP Right of Way along The Cannery

          16.959 acres

          Covell Boulevard

          80′ H Street plus 65′ UP Right of Way

          6.428 acres

          9th Street

          80′ H Street plus 65′ UP Right of Way

          2.330 acres

          Sweet Briar Drive

          65′ wide Union Pacific Right of Way

          1.087 acres

          Sixth Street

          60′ wide Union Pacific Right of Way

          0.661 acres

          Fifth Street

          60′ wide Union Pacific Right of Way

          0.663 acres

          Fourth Street

          60′ wide Union Pacific Right of Way

          0.664 acres

  4. Tia Will

    I think that Michael has this right. The sooner that there is enough information for community involvement, the less likely that there will be prolonged legal battles over this. Although I do not favor Michael’s litigious approach to nearly every growth issue, I will give him credit for issuing warnings about what he believes to be legitimate issues well in advance of filing his law suits. It isn’t like he makes stealth maneuvers.

    It would be optimal if the planners, developers and advocates for the project would be as open with their plans.

    1. David Greenwald

      This is a case where I think Alan Miller is at least partially right in that rail relocation is expensive and going to take a long time to do. We are not talking about something in that is imminent. I may disagree on the ultimate feasibility of the project, because I think the feds and Woodland have to move on this more urgently than we do, but if this happens its not going to be for a long time. So now you are suggesting we devote staff time on something that is perhaps decades off?

      1. South of Davis

        David wrote:

        > So now you are suggesting we devote staff time on

        > something that is perhaps decades off?

        It took over 30 years to convert the abandoned Sausalito and Tiburon rail lines to bike trails.

        I predict it will be at least 20 years to “move” the Davis rail line than at least another 20 years before anyone is riding on a trail to Woodland…

      2. Tia Will

        So now you are suggesting we devote staff time on something that is perhaps decades off?”

        I would be happy with a compilation of factual material from Alan M., Matt Williams, and anyone else who has put time and energy into assessing the issue as starters. The length of time to implementation does not preclude my curiosity about what would be entailed. I think we have too much experience with a roller coaster of preparedness in the way we deal with issues in our town. I would prefer a very slow gradual progression of change rather than what seems to me the ambient approach consisting of let’s wait and wait and wait, and then declare an emergency and rush through a plan based on fear based hyperbole.

        Just a personal preference.

        And just one more thought…..if you did not see now as a relevant time to be having these discussions, what is the reason for posting this article at this time.

  5. Michael Harrington

    I’d like to hear from Matt

    But my gut sense is that it will be only a few short years until things are set

    My little boy watches the nearby trains from our home and knows all the engines by heart  I’m thankful his early memories are of very cool trains a half block away

    1. David Greenwald

      See South of Davis’ remarks, your gut sense is way off. All we have is a feasibility study. Moving the tracks will be a very lengthy endeavor even if the funding is there. Then you have the planning process. I think 20 years is a good estimate.

      1. Mark West

        I doubt it will happen within the lifetime of anyone currently reading this blog, but it is a great project to discuss when you want to change the subject away from the real problems facing the City.

        1. South of Davis

          Mark wrote:

          > I doubt it will happen within the lifetime of anyone currently reading this blog.

          In the 1930’s it took three years to build two sides of the Bay Bridge (and drill a hole in an island).

          In the 1990’s, 2000’s and three years in to the 2010’s we were able to replace half the Bay Bridge in 24 years (using the same home in the island).

          My prediction of 20 years to “move” the line and another 20 to turn it in to a bike trail  assumes we start working on the project soon (and don’t find an endangered salamander in the wetlands or have someone in West Sacramento sue about the trestle design)…

          P.S. It seems like it is almost been ten years since the state started the project of just adding a few lanes to the ~4 miles of I80 between the American River and Truxel…

  6. Misanthrop

    Did they include a freight bypass to get the oil trains and hazardous materials out of town? Get the energy industry to help pay too. Now that would be a project I would support.

    1. Alan Miller

      This would involve the E-W rather than the N-S tracks.  I suggested this before the council, in the paper, and before SACOG and Benicia, complete with a detailed route.  This would be $100’s of millions of dollars.

      Benicia brushed aside in their responses.  In Vanguard comments, Rob White said there was no economic value in moving the E-W tracks tracks, as opposed to the N-S tracks.

      I guess not incinerating downtown Davis has no economic value.

      Well he’s now working for a sibling company of the tiny railroad that would benefit most from the massive federal subsidy / land scam of  Yolo County that he advocated for as a “public” “servant”.

      Coincidence I’m sure.

  7. Frankly

    Where is Alan Miller when you need him?

    One thing for sure, a rail relocation will make several blocks of Davis downtown much more attractive and feasible for redevelopment… and the value of that land would appreciate significantly.

  8. Alan Miller

    ****** Where is Alan Miller when you need him? ******

    “Here I come to save the day” and all that superhero BS.

    This whole thing is a farce, a scam, a boondoggle and most importantly a complete waste of tax dollars..  I spoke in front if the Council a few weeks ago about this study release and Brent pulled it from consent at my urging.  Rob suggested that City Staff time not be used for this anymore, as it is far in the future, uncertain, and directly benefits Woodland more (actually West Sac is the true beneficiary).

    Even the report admits a 20-40 year time frame.  That is optimistic.  The complications are enormous (and the lies and hypocrisy even larger).

    At least this study played down some of the totally made up benefits of the previous speculative glowing advicocies (though perpetuating others)

    1. Alan Miller

      Have to sort of disagree.  I am coming at this not from being against dense housing in all locations, but rather the proposed squandering of a transportation corridor, which is unconscionable.  The consultants should have been fired from the project for even proposing such an outrageous idea, although I am sure they had their marching orders.

      1. Matt Williams

        Alan, given the very small two-way commuter traffic that currently flows from Woodland to Davis, why is a rail transportation corridor between those two cities subject to being “squandered”?

        Said another way, will there ever be enough commuter traffic between Davis and Woodland to justify the cost of building the commuter rail line?

        1. Alan Miller

          Matt, you are not understanding where I am referring to.  The proposed squandering is the short portion of the corridor within Davis from the Amtrak Station north to the north border of Davis along F-Street (Cannery, north Davis).  Reread what I wrote.

          Commuter rail between Woodland and Davis is probably not feasible without massive population increase, or a complete economic breakdown of personal transportation vehicles (i.e. extremely high fuel prices).  Then again, I didn’t mention that.

        2. Matt Williams

          Alan, you have lost me.  Are you proposing building a commuter rail line from the Amtrak Station to Cannery? What would your proposed rail fare be for a trip from the northern terminus to the Amtrak Station?

        3. hpierce

          Matt… even if there will be no inter-city rail for 40-200 years, losing the R/W is for all practical purposes, “forever”.  If it loses its value for freight, better it go to ‘rails to trails’ in the interim…  paving between the rails will be much cheaper than removing the line, and is ‘reversible’.  Nice straight shot between downtown Davis and downtown Woodland.  A pretty valuable asset.  Not to be squandered.

          Pretty sure that Sierra Northern  RR and Sierra Energy are one and the same, deep down.  I get a “whiff” of something I question… notice the money expended to date on the study is almost all “tax-payer” money… unlikely the taxpayers will see economic benefit at all…

        4. Matt Williams

          hpierce, a couple of questions …

          — How can we “lose” a right of way that we don’t have?  Union Pacific owns the right of way regardless of whether there are tracks on it or no tracks on it?

          — How wide is the typical bike path in the Davis greenbelt system?

          — How wide is the Union Pacific right of way?  (I realize it varies by location, but on average what is it?)

          — Why beat around the bush in your second paragraph?  I am assuming that the “whiff” you are referring to is the fact that Rob White now works for Mike Hart and his Sierra companies.  For me there is no odor whatsoever in that reality.  The City of Davis made the very unfortunate decision to let Rob go.  When that happened, he became a free agent, and George Steinbrenner made him the best offer … an offer that was no doubt based in part on how Mr. Steinbrenner valued Rob’s rail relocation knowledge and experience.

          — If the Yolo County Landfill gets rail service, the taxpayers will almost surely benefit well.

        5. Matt Williams

          Okay Alan, if your plan is that a transportation corridor isn’t going to be used for a form of transportation that “needs” the entire width of the existing right of way, what is your proposal for the “best” use of the full railroad right of way width as it passes through Davis from the Amtrak Station to the northern City Limits?

          — What width will a rails to trails bike path require?

          — How wide is the typical bike path in the Davis greenbelt system?

          — How wide is the Union Pacific right of way?  (I realize it varies by location, but on average what is it?)


  9. Matt Williams

    Mike has asked me what my opinion is about this.

    My opinion is somewhat dated.  Once the five-agency working group of Yolo County, the cities of Davis, West Sacramento and Woodland, and the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency was formed and the grant was awarded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), there was virtually nothing happening that warranted a public meeting.  Waiting for the nuts and bolts work of Yolo Rail Realignment Economic Benefits Study didn’t generate much activity other than waiting.

    With that said, the driving force behind this rail relocation is the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan.  The existing rail line from West Sacramento to Woodland crosses the Yolo Bypass on an ancient wooden trestle, which hydrologic engineering studies show reduces the flood water carrying capacity of the Yolo Bypass by as much as one foot during a flood event.  Removing that trestle and rerouting the freight rail line that uses the trestle is a very low-cost (compared to building setback levees and other flood control structures) way to relieve flood water pressure on the east side levee of the Sacramento River from Natomas down to South Sacramento.  The east side levee is vulnerable because the Sacramento River makes a sweeping turn from its east-west course at Woodland to its north-south course through Sacramento/West Sacramento.  Every foot of water that the Yolo Bypass  accepts from the Fremont Weir means at least a 3-foot decrease in the water level of the Sacramento River as it sweeps past Natomas and Sacramento. A 3-foot decrease means significantly less outward pressure on the levee from the fast moving river water.

    In order to avoid building a new trestle across the Bypass, a plan has been studied to have the long-line railroads (Union Pacific and BNSF) drop their northbound freight cars at a new spur that would run north past the Yolo Landfill on the west side of the Bypass.

    California Northern, the short-line railroad that currently uses the tracks running from the car wash to the Cannery within the City Limits ,would have the option of continuing to use the existing tracks, or moving their operations to the new spur.

    Union Pacific owns all the land in the current north-south right of way.  If California Northern chose to relocate, then Union Pacific would be faced with a decision about what to do with that right of way land.  It is approximately 50 acres within the city.

    It is my understanding that over a decade ago Yolo County applied for, and was granted, a Rails To Trails designation for the Union Pacific right of way north of the Davis City Limits all the way to Woodland.  I do not know if that designation is still current.

    To the best of my knowledge there has been virtually no developer involvement in either the brainstorming or actions associated with this project.  On the other hand there has been massive amounts of involvement by the agencies charged with putting together a post-Katrina plan for dealing with California’s significant flood risk exposure.  FEMA has calculated the damage projection of an eastside levee breach of the Sacramento River at Natomas at over $5 billion.

  10. Alan Miller

    With that said, the driving force behind this rail relocation is the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan.

    The driving forces behind this are Angelo Tsodupulous and the City of West Sacramento and their developers and the consultant who landed a very sweet contract for something that will not be built for a generation or two.

    1. Matt Williams

      Alan, you are correct, the reduced flood risk in West Sacramento is a very strong incentive for West Sac.  The Central Valley Flood Protection Plan also includes a doubling of the size of the Sacramento Weir and a doubling of the carrying capacity of the Sacramento Bypass that receives the flood waters that spill over the Sacramento Weir.

      In all the hundreds of meetings on this subject, Angelo has been at best a bit player, most of the time completely absent from the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan discussions.  How is it that you expect Angelo to benefit economically from this project?

  11. hpierce

    Let’s get real…

    If it such a great idea, why not just add a new line, and abandon the trestle across the causeway?

    The reality is that the tracks will not be “moved”.  Another reality appears to be that CNRR would lose their RR, and Sierra could take all their business.  Another reality appears to be that UPRR would profit from any sale of the existing corridor.  It also appears that Sierra would have the new rail line built, heavily subsidized by the taxpayers, and then have pretty much exclusive use for their profit.

    Again, it it’s such a great idea, why doesn’t Sierra build it, with little or no public subsidy, and let CN continue to operate on the rails owned by UPRR?

    1. Matt Williams

      The reason is very straightforward.  It is the State of California and FEMA who want the trestle removed, not Sierra Northern.  The project doesn’t make economic or social sense as a transportation project.  There is a reason that SAFCA (the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency) is an active participant in the working group with the four Yolo County entities … the County, the cities of Davis, West Sacramento and Woodland.

      Your first paragraph is exactly what this project is doing … adding a new line on the west side of the Yolo Bypass and abandoning (removing) the trestle across the bypass (not the causeway).

      I suspect that Sierra Northern won’t have exclusive use of the new line. They more than likely will be a franchisee . .. which is what California Northern currently is on the line that starts at the Amtrak station and goes north to just above Chico carrying beer, chemicals, cheese, construction products, feed grain, lime, lumber, olives and oils, rice, steel, sugar, tomato products and wine.

  12. The Pugilist

    It is interesting, when the idea of rail relocation was first floated, part of the idea was to free up land in Davis’ core for economic development.  Suddenly NO ONE cares about that anymore.  You have Alan Miller who apparently wants to preserve the rail line (now it’s not just the expense, the truth comes out) and Michael Harrington who is opposed to all new development (except Measure P for reasons we can all guess) coming out against this when we know this is a long-term planning process that will occur over decades of time.

  13. Alan Miller

    I suspect that Sierra Northern won’t have exclusive use of the new line.

    I suspect no one will have use of the new line, as it’s hard to run a railroad on something that doesn’t exist.

    The problem with analysis is that one can only analyze the data one has within the context of one’s knowledge. There is so much to refute both in the press release and in the comments, that the thought of doing so has zapped my will to live.

    If I find myself with a block of time and some renewed will to live, I’ll return to this, but telling one person who thinks they are right and doesn’t understand railroad issues and won’t change their mind anyway isn’t going to do anyone any good, nor is it going to help with my goal of killing this boondoggle until it rises no more: dead, dead, dead.

  14. Todd Edelman

    I came upon this article unintentionally – by the way it pre-dates my arrival BY TRAIN- yes, I initially moved here by train – in Davis by about four months – but I am familiar with the issue. I think it would be useful to do a transport study based on use of the existing rail and also expanding on the now-outdated non-motorized transportation study:

    The concepts:
    1) A tram-train between Woodland and Davis. This would be served by a DMU that provides the eBART service to Antioch (and eventually further). This DMU would be modified with the addition of road vehicle signals so that it could operate on surface streets, with high-floor ramps etc like in Sacramento for ADA-related. The surface streets to be studied would include 1st St with variants ending in different spots on the east side of UC Davis campus, and in the north on Main St. and perhaps other streets in Woodland. It would be contemplated by dedicated-timing synced autonomous buses to multiple points, such as shopping centers and elsewhere, sometimes dynamically, e.g. during the Yolo County Fair or Picnic Day, and also by park & ride lots (perhaps just on the Woodland side.) Stops between Woodland Downtown and UC Davis would include Davis Downtown and others. There would be normal services focused on the commute to and from UC Davis, Capitol Corridor and long-distance Amtrak arrivals and departures, and weekend evenings for both Downtowns, with a late train on Friday and Saturday nights.

    2) A non-motorized transportation corridor optimized for Type 3 fast electric assist bicycles (that go 25-30 mph with some work). “Optimized” means wide enough to share and pass slower users or physical separation. (The City of Davis Street Standards from 2016, the 2013 Transportation Element and probably nothing at County or State level mentions fast e-bikes at all in infrastructure design.)

    A BIG question of course is the condition of the rail corridor itself for both speed and comfort. My sense is that its max. speed is only 30 mph, which is a problem, however perhaps this could be speeded up incrementally as long as night-time work is possible. The service would create additional interruptions for road traffic BUT with a short rail car this would be much faster than the current long breaks with long freight trains.

    Another important question is where the trains would be maintained. Is there an existing facility in or near Woodland that services locos used for the excursion trains that operate in that area?

    1. Todd Edelman


      The eBART maintenance yard in Antioch is theoretically-reachable via tracks through Sacramento and Brentwood with the construction of addition connectors; staff at Antioch could drive to the facility in Yolo for the Davis-Woodland train? Staff hiring and training is a huge cost in-and-of-itself, so sharing here would yield big savings.

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