Changes to area travel and commuting could come as soon as 2028
By Jacob Peterson
New state funding could triple the number of Capitol Corridor trips leaving from Roseville each day, making journeys to Sacramento and San Francisco more convenient.
Governor Gavin Newsom recently announced he would award $30 million to the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority for their Sacramento-to-Roseville ‘Third Track Project,’ according to the governor’s office. That funding is part of a total package of $2.5 billion awarded to public transportation projects throughout the state. According to Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority Manager of Planning Jim Allison, the Third Track project is currently in its initial phase.
“There’s one round trip that goes from Auburn down to the Bay Area,” Allison said. “Phase one adds two additional round trips. So instead of the train starting out in Sacramento or stopping in Sacramento, they stop and start by Roseville, so you’d end up with three round trips going through those rails.”
Allison said the project initially started with negotiating rights in 2008 and the current estimated completion date for the first phase is set for 2028. Allison said they have been working on getting more funding for constructing the project for several years.
“We have funding to design and do final design and some right-of-way purchases,” Allison continued. “We’re in the process of gathering the funding for the construction, and that’s what you would have read about that we got some award out of that amount, as one of the puzzle pieces of a whole construction funding picture.”
Allison added the new revenue primarily comes from state money and discretionary funds, which he said currently totaled around $213 million for the first phase of the project. Allison said the full plan is to eventually increase from three round trips a day from Roseville to 10. Capitol Corridor had applied for $2.5 million in federal funding for that aim, which could be forthcoming. Once the project is completed, it will have a slew of benefits for the people living in the regions the tracks will service, according to officials.
“We’re getting a lot of people moving up that way,” Allison acknowledged. “There’s a good market, between Placer and Sacramento, Davis and Placer, and much even further into Silicon Valley.”
Officials also believe there will be environmental benefits to the increased train capacity, not only taking drivers off the road but also allowing for more freight trains to take trucks off the road. Complimenting that objective, the city of Roseville has put a lot of lower income and smaller apartments near the train station since it’s within walking distance.
Jaime Sunen, a 46-year-old copywriter, regularly makes use of public transit in Roseville. Sunen said he takes the bus at least once a week to make his way to San Francisco for work and to visit his girlfriend.
“It would help me as long as it was synced with the Valley Corridor train,” Sunen observed. “I have never really been able to use the train so I’m pretty happy with it.”
Another Roseville local making their way to San Francisco was Maureen O’Neal, 59. O’Neal said she makes the trip to San Francisco about twice a year. She said she wasn’t surprised when she heard how long the project has been in the works.
“It’s the way the state does stuff,” O’Neal remarked. “It’s the way the government does stuff, long time, and then it’s screwed up.”
Despite this, O’Neal said that if the extra trips were to be added she would be more likely to make use of the trains and to travel to Sacramento, pointing out it’s better than driving.
In 2015, the construction for the entire project was estimated at $275 million, according to the Capitol Corridor website. The project’s website currently estimates construction for the first phase will be $140 million, with construction planned to start this year.
Allison said that he attributes the increase in price to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Cost and materials and labor, everything since the start of the pandemic has gone up substantially,” Allison said. “Also, inflation.”
That’s why officials think the $30 million awarded by the governor is vital to keeping the project on track and continuing to meet milestones.
“Everything one does to build the whole funding puzzle, you need all the puzzle pieces, so everyone becomes vital,” Allison said. “In the way that discretionary funds are set up you’re kind of leaning dominoes, everyone needs a place and you need everyone to happen and if it doesn’t it affects all the other projects.”