SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CBS13) – A new Amtrak station is coming to Midtown. It’s part of an upgrade to the route connecting Sacramento with the San Joaquin Valley. And the city says the station will be up and running in just two years.
“We’re not really looking to build sort of large-scale projects but really bring this service online as quickly as possible,” said David Lipari, Marketing Manager for San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority. “As we’re seeing the Northern California mega region grow, it’s important to figure out how you’re going to move people from the San Joaquin Valley region to the Sacramento Region and vice versa.”
The station is planned underneath the bridge on 19th and Q Streets, across from the Safeway parking lot. It’s within walking distance from an existing RT hub. The whole idea is to be able to ditch your car to commute no matter where you live in the Sacramento region.
“I love Amtrak!” said Mike Merry. “I ride them across the country 3 or 4 times a year and to San Francisco about 5 times a year.”
But for riders like Merry, who lives in Midtown, the Amtrak station on 4th and I streets isn’t always convenient.
“I’d rather have the train within walking distance,” he said. “I have a lot of luggage!”
San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority plans to build 6 new stations throughout the Sacramento region with a $500 million-dollar state grant. Locations include Lodi, Elk Grove, Natomas, Old North Sacramento, Sacramento City College, and Midtown.
“All of the stations are sort of being optimized for their region,” Lipari said. “But we’re really trying to limit the impacts to the communities.”
A group of UC Davis students created a collection of design ideas for the new station including short-term and long-term bike parking, new fencing for pedestrians, an elevated bike path, and designated drop-off zones.
“Can you imagine the transformation that this place will have?” said Vice Mayor Steve Hansen. “It’s like a quilt missing a patch! We’re going to drop in something really cool here!”
Lipari says the timeline is on the fast track with a completion date by 2020.
“We’re going to be using this infrastructure by building new stations and platforms and so really, it’s ready to go,” Lipari said.
He explained that the new stations will be built around existing tracks currently used for freight trains.
Once the Midtown station is finished, riders will have the option to enter from Q Street or across the street from Safeway on 19th Street.
Lipari and Hansen say Californians may be more ready to ditch their vehicles than we realize. The Capital Corridor Amtrak has 1.6 million riders per year while the San Joaquin route sees 1.1 million riders, making these routes the 3rd and 6th most traveled in the country.
“And if you’ve seen the congestion on Hwy 99, this is going help that congestion,” Hansen said.
For business owners like Greg Cotta, more riders means more eyes on his coffee shop.
“Fingers crossed, you know really this neighborhood could benefit from it!” he told CBS13.
Currently, there are two trips a day from the San Joaquin Valley to Sacramento. But by 2023, riders will be able to choose from nine different trips a day.