Plan to Extend Rail Service to Natomas on Track

Public Comment Sought on Draft Environmental Report

THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

Public input is being sought on a project that would extend commuter railroad service to Natomas by 2023.

A preliminary environmental impact report has been released for the Valley Rail Sacramento Extension Project and is now available for public review and comment.

The report looks at planned track improvements, new passenger station build out and increased passenger rail service. If the report is approved, the project will be clear to move forward.

The Valley Rail Sacramento Extension Project would expand Amtrak San Joaquins Train and Altamont Corridor Express passenger rail services to the greater Sacramento area.

The Valley Rail Sacramento Extension Project would include construction of six new rail stations and track improvements along the Union Pacific Railroad Sacramento Subdivision train tracks.

A controversial proposal to locate a rail passenger station in northeast Natomas, adjacent to the Regency Park and Valley View Acres neighborhoods and the unfinished East Natomas Education Complex, has been dropped from the proposal.

That option was considered but dismissed, according to David Lipari, marketing manager for the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority.

Natomas/Sacramento Airport Station west of Levee Road: This alternative considered the development of a station on a 47-acre site south of West Elkhorn Boulevard, west of Levee Road, and just east of the Natomas residential development. In response to community input and concern during the public scoping period, this station was dismissed from further consideration.” — Valley Rail Sacramento Extension Project draft EIR

What’s left is the eastern option for the station and some layover tracks, but the eastern option has a different footprint based on input from the Brasher’s vehicle auction yard, Lipari added.

The project now proposes to build the Natomas passenger station east of Black Top Road and south of Elkhorn Boulevard. This new location and layover track configuration is detailed in the draft environmental impact report released on March 31.

Public comment on the report is being accepted through May 15.

The 45-day comment period is meant to give the members of the public a chance to review environmental concerns detailed in the report for the proposed Sacramento extension of the Valley Rail Program, and to provide feedback to the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission.

A proposed rail maintenance facility in Natomas — which also raised concerns at more than one North Natomas Community Coalition meeting — has been dropped from the first phase of the expansion project, according to Lipari.

The maintenance facility is included in the draft environmental document as a concept, but would be subject to additional environmental review if and when more funding becomes available for a second phase, Lipari added. A variety of sites would likely be considered for a maintenance facility at that time.

Project at a Glance

The Valley Rail Sacramento Extension Project includes the possibility of adding two new round trips San Joaquins Train service operating on the Sacramento, Fresno, and BNSF Stockton Subdivisions, as well as an extension of existing Altamont Corridor Express service to the proposed Natomas station.

The proposed project also includes service from the proposed Natomas station to the Ceres Altamont Corridor Express station included in the Altamont Corridor Express Extension Lathrop to Ceres/Merced project.

Six new stations would be constructed in the following locations: Lodi, south Sacramento which would be named the North Elk Grove station, City College, midtown Sacramento, old north Sacramento, and Natomas/Sacramento Airport. The Natomas station would include a shuttle connection to and from the Sacramento International Airport.

In 2018, the California State Transportation Agency awarded more than $500 million in grant funds for Valley Rail Project improvements which is a coordinated effort by the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority and the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission.

The goals of the project are to: expand passenger rail service in San Joaquin and Sacramento counties; increase frequency of service; boost passenger rail ridership; deduce travel time between the San Joaquin Valley and the Sacramento area; expand existing transit capacity and provide transit connections; provide an alternative to automobile traffic congestion; improve regional air quality; reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and support local and regional land use development plans and policies.

The proposed project is also designed to help with geographic equity by increasing connectivity within the Central Valley, including Sacramento, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, and Fresno counties; the Bay Area; and the greater California rail network via two future high-speed rail connections in Merced and San Jose.

There are three meetings tentatively scheduled to allow public presentation and discussion of the draft environmental impact report:

  • Thursday, April 23, 2020 at 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the North Natomas Library community room, 4660 Via Ingoglia, in Sacramento.
  • Tuesday, April 28, 2020 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Midtown Community Association, 1401 21st Street Unit A, in Sacramento.
  • Monday, May 11, 2020 at 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Laguna Town Hall reception hall, 3020 Renwick Avenue, in Elk Grove

Project officials indicated they are monitoring the COVID-19 crisis on a daily basis and there is a possibility that open houses for the Valley Rail Sacramento Extension environmental report will be replaced with an online, virtual open house.

Written responses and comments on the draft report will be accepted until 5 p.m. on Friday, May 15, 2020.

You may also be interested in:

  • An overview of Valley Rail is available at
  • Download a copy of the Draft Environmental Impact Report (including all appendices) at .
  • Submit public comment via email to [email protected]. Include “Valley Rail Sacramento Extension DEIR” in the subject heading for emailed comments.
  • Submit public comment via snail mail to San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission, Attn: Valley Rail Sacramento Extension DEIR, 949 E. Channel Street, Stockton, CA 95202.

Natomas / Sacramento Airport Station


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