Passenger train service between Sacramento and Stockton could become a reality by 2023.
A proposal to include an Elk Grove station for that line is currently under public review.
That passenger station and its siding track could be built just north of Laguna Boulevard, near Dwight Road in the Laguna West area.
The goal is to have this extension in full operation in about two years. If built, this extension would expand Amtrak San Joaquin and ACE passenger rail services within the greater Sacramento region.
Partnering on the proposed Valley Rail Sacramento Extension Project are the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority and the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission.
Details about that proposal were presented during an online, public workshop held on Aug. 26.
Gladys Cornell, the meeting’s moderator, identified the Elk Grove station as one of five stations that could be built along the Valley Rail Sacramento Extension Project, between Stockton and Sacramento. A shuttle connection to bring passengers to the Sacramento International Airport is also planned.
Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen, who called into the meeting, expressed support for this rail line and its Elk Grove station.
“Tonight’s meeting is very important as we get the Valley Rail Sacramento Extension here in Elk Grove, which again is so important to our community,” she said. “It will help alleviate so much of our congestion problems that we all experience on a daily basis. This is a great first step for getting an important, new amenity to our city.”
Elk Grove City Council Member Darren Suen, whose council District 1 includes the site of the proposed station, mentioned that the Elk Grove station would present a great opportunity to “Plug into the regional trail network.”
“I served on the Sacramento Transportation Authority and have heard about the Valley Rail project for several years, and I’m excited that we’re now narrowing in on what this project can mean for Elk Grove,” he said.
Elk Grove City Council Member Pat Hume, who also serves on that council, noted that the proposed site is located near jobs, commercial services and residential housing.
Hume called this passenger station “an important connection.”
“Someday, the freeways are going to be even more congested than they are now, if you can imagine that,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for a stress-free way to get between home, work and play, and travel.
During the meeting’s question and answer period, local residents submitted a variety of questions.
David Ripperda, manager of the commission’s capital programs, answered an inquiry about the likelihood whether the Elk Grove station would be constructed.
“If the station does not move forward, we’ll have to determine our next steps after that, but we can’t speculate on whether or not we will be moving forward,” he said.
Ripperda additionally responded to a question regarding one of those residents’ inquiry about the estimated number of this line’s riders, noting that estimations of the potential ridership have not yet been completed.
Ripperda also addressed the question about whether Elk Grove citizens would be paying into the station project, noting that the station would be funded by the state.
“The city of Elk Grove is not providing any funding,” he said.
David Williams, the project manager, with Mark Thomas & Co., responded to a resident’s question about how automobile traffic would be affected near an Elk Grove station.
“We’re still evaluating that, as well,” he said. “We’re looking to maximize parking within the proposed surface parking lot site. So, we’re at the early, early stages of those types of evaluations. We’ll have more information (in the) draft EIR.”
Williams added that the proposed station’s accompanying parking would likely have 175 to 225 spaces.
He also noted that communication with the Sacramento Regional Transit District regarding potential routing of buses to the proposed Elk Grove station has already begun.
“That coordination is ongoing as we go through development,” Williams said.
As for safety issues pertaining to the parking area, Ripperda noted that the area would be equipped with surveillance cameras and license plate readers to “discourage crime.”
Ripperda added that the parking lot could possibly be fenced off and locked at nights.
The Aug. 26 meeting represented the first of several opportunities for the public to provide comments on the project.
In addition to serving to present information and gather community feedback, the meeting also represented the official notice of the beginning of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) process for the Elk Grove station.
Dan Leavitt, the commission’s manager of regional initiatives, mentioned that, in 2020, the EIR was completed for the entire Sacramento-Stockton line, with the exception of the proposed Elk Grove station site.
“The (EIR) process, at the moment, has no Elk Grove station in it,” he said. “In order to have an Elk Grove station, we do need to do this new, additional environmental work in order to enable the Elk Grove station to be able to serve the community.”
To review the project overview or view the notice of preparation and initial study for the Elk Grove station, visit AceRail.com/Valley_Rail/.
Those interested in submitting formal comments about the Elk Grove station proposal can submit those comments by email to ElkGroveStation@gmail.com.
Formal comments can also be sent to San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission, attn. Elk Grove Station Project NOP, 949 East Channel St., Stockton, CA 95202.