Transportation Agency for Monterey County rail meeting report

April 2, 2007, reported by RailPAC Associate Director Chris Flescher.

A significant part of the meeting was on possible BRT lines in the area. There was a Monterey Bay Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) study performed, for Monterey Salinas Transit (MST) and SCRTD (the equivalent agency for Santa Cruz County). The study was started in Jan 2007, and will be used to prepare an application for a FTA very small starts grant. These are the preliminary findings:

A line on the Monterey Peninsula could be constructed in the near future, while one to Salinas will be considered in the more distant future. The study is still gathering data about what routes to take and what stops to make, in order to make connections between the Edgewater Transit Center (near Marina/Seaside border), CSUMB, and the Aquarium (on the Monterey/Pacific Grove border).

A future line would go along what may be called the Marina-Salinas multimodal corridor. The first plan was to have the corridor on 8th Street and Imjin, eventually joining with Blanco Road. Many problems with this route were discovered, such as habitat for endangered species, which would make it difficult to widen Blanco. The current plan puts the corridor on 9th Street, 5th Avenue, Intergarrison Road, Reservation Road, then Davis Road. It may go through CSUMB near the western end. The Fort Ord Reuse Authority (FORA) says that when the route of the multimodal corridor is finalized, they will work to preserve the row for some kind of rapid transit. The FORA obligation is to create some space for two stations or transit centers, and to buy some buses for MST, but not to contribute any money towards the busway.

One possibility would bring the corridor through Watkins Gate (which is at the east end of the former Ford Ord base). That would avoid some of the section of Reservation road that is very narrow and sharply curving.

The BRT or LRT station on the Castroville to Monterey line would be at the interchange of 8th Street and Highway 1, so it would be less than a block from the end of the Marina to Salinas BRT line. The Marina-Salinas line could make use of some proposed highway improvement projects, such as widening Davis Road to 4 lanes, and constructing the Westside Bypass.

At the April meeting of a state agency (I think the one that awards funding for transportation projects), TAMC will request $125,000 from the STIP fund, to continue analysis of the Monterey to Castroville corridor, for the possibility of LRT or BRT.

The next study contract with Parsons will be to produce the environmental documents for these plans.

The Santa Cruz County Funding Task Force is considering recommending $10 million towards analysis of the Pajaro Station. This could be used as a local match for federal funds. The group has not made the final decision. A county transportation sales tax might go on the ballot in November 2008, and such a tax, if passed, could help fund the Pajaro station.

The city of Soledad is considering building a passenger boarding platform, which the future Coast Daylight would use. The platform would be next to an existing passing siding, where Amtrak trains commonly sit, waiting for freight trains to pass.

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