City rebids track relocation
Sacramento transportation officials on Wednesday rebid the city’s downtown railroad track relocation project.
Tracks that are part of a major trade route must be moved 500 feet north of their existing location at Sacramento Valley Station, Fifth and I streets, and straightened to allow for longer freight trains. That will enable a larger volume of trains to move through Sacramento and to do so more quickly.
The project will also separate currently shared freight and passenger tracks to increase safety while still allowing freight trains to move at higher speeds.
Four new tracks – two devoted to passenger trains and two for freight – will be built. Passenger platforms, separate tunnels for pedestrians, passengers and service and new utilities will also be added, said Department of Transportation Operations Manager Fran Halbakken.
The Department of Transportation won $20 million in federal stimulus money and more than $25 million in state Proposition 1B money for the project.
But the cost for the track relocation itself had to be scaled back to $45 million. Then the project had to be redesigned and rebid last May after the city was unable to find another $12 million in funding.
“Staff has worked tirelessly to get this project ready to rebid – in between coordinating with a new property owner/partner on a dozen new agreements, so as not to jeopardize any of the $45 million in federal and state funding that has been cobbled together for this much-anticipated project,” city transportation department Director Jerry Way said in a prepared statement.
Sacramento Department of Transportation Director Jerry Way. Photo by Brandon Darnell.
Sacramento Valley Station sits on the Central Corridor, a national trade route whose western junction is the high-volume Port of Oakland. Currently, freight and passenger trains share three tracks in a configuration set up about the time the Sacramento station was built in 1925.
Total cost of the project, including construction management and other work, is about $68 million. Work was delayed while the project was redesigned and rebid, and while ownership of the historic railyards changed hands. The city had hoped to break ground last May.
The project, which includes construction of the Fifth and Sixth street bridges, makes up the first phase of the new regional transportation center to be built near the Sacramento Valley Station. Moving the train tracks also allows further development of the historic railyards.
Developer Thomas Enterprises defaulted in June on more than $187 million in private loans, which had been used to buy 238 acres of the railyards in 2006. The company’s lender, Inland American Real Estate Trust now owns the site and is partnering with the city on the track relocation project on adjacent city-owned land.
Groundbreaking is expected in May. Transportation officials expect the work to take about two years.
Suzanne Hurt is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Twitter @SuzanneHurt.