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Tue October 20, 2020 - West Edition #22
Caltrans recently announced it is receiving a $20 million federal grant to improve the busiest, most congested rail junction in California. The award from the U.S. Department of Transportation Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Transportation Grants program will help fund the Stockton Diamond Grade Separation Project, which will elevate a set of tracks at the delay-stricken intersection to create free-flowing movement along passenger and freight rail lines, and allow for future expansion.
Construction on the project, currently in the approval and environmental review phase, is scheduled to begin in 2022. It is the only rail project in the nation to receive a BUILD grant.
"This critical project will improve both passenger and freight rail while pushing economic growth in the San Joaquin Valley. The project will help reduce delays, improve air quality and expand access to the Port of Stockton," said Toks Omishakin, director of Caltrans.
The $237 million project is a partnership between Caltrans, the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC), Union Pacific (UP) Railroad and Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway. The result will be a grade separation of two north-south UP railroad tracks from two east-west BNSF tracks at the most congested railway junction in California. The grade separation will be an improvement over the current ground-level intersection, which significantly delays freight trains serving their nationwide networks and the Port of Stockton, limits freight capacity growth and inhibits the expansion of Amtrak San Joaquins and Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) passenger services through the region.
"Untangling the Diamond will provide immediate benefits to residents of Stockton, support our plans to expand both the ACE commuter rail service and San Joaquin County's intercity passenger rail service, and improve freight movements throughout the region," said SJRRC Chair Christina Fugazi. "We are extremely proud that this was the only rail project in the nation to win a BUILD award."
The project also includes bike, pedestrian and roadway improvements at 10 local road crossings in Stockton, enhancing safety and access for residents.
"This is a transformational project, which will bring significant improvements to passenger and freight rail service, as well as enhanced pedestrian, bike and vehicle access, safety and air quality to the Stockton community," said BNSF Executive Director of Public Affairs Lena Kent. "We stand ready to work in collaboration with all parties to help move it through environmental review and into construction."
Federal BUILD grants invest in surface transportation infrastructure and are awarded for projects that will have a significant local or regional impact. BUILD funding can support roads, bridges, transit, rail, ports or intermodal transportation
"Union Pacific Railroad recognizes the importance of the Stockton Diamond Grade Separation Project in not only improving freight and passenger rail service, but also in fostering economic growth and public benefits to the City of Stockton, San Joaquin Valley and Northern California Megaregion," said Adrian Guerrero, general director of public affairs for Union Pacific Railroad. "Union Pacific is excited to continue the partnership with SJRRC, Caltrans, BNSF and other stakeholders to support, develop and advance this significant infrastructure investment."
For more information about the Stockton Diamond Grade Separation Project, visit www.stocktondiamond.com.
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