Monterey County Rail Policy Committee report

June 4, 2007, Transportation Agency for Monterey County Rail Policy Committee meeting
Report and commentary by Chris Flescher, RailPAC, Salinas

There is an interest in awarding Parsons another contract for planning work on the Monterey Branch Line. The contract would involve aerial photography to create more detailed maps of the area. There would be enough detail to finish the final design plans.

The group AMBAG (Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments) is planning to do an aerial survey of the entire region, not just the area near the rail line. It appears that the AMBAG survey and the proposed Parsons survey will produce very different information, so the AMBAG study might not produce the necessary information for Parsons and TAMC. There is a desire to schedule a meeting between Parsons, TAMC and AMBAG to determine if the two aerial surveys can be combined into one, and still produce the information that TAMC and AMBAG need.

The plan for the Parsons study will produce topographic information to create a digital terrain model. It will also examine all records of utility placements on or near the r.o.w., to determine what is currently in the way of starting train service.

The city of Monterey would like to hold a public meeting to discuss certain things with the Monterey City Council, such as the impact of trains on public buildings, and the exact route of the rail line. There is an interest in having Parsons run one (or more) public meetings.

(The following is my own opinion, not something mentioned at the meeting):
I believe that in part of Monterey, near the Lighthouse Avenue tunnel, the old r.o.w. of the rail line no longer exists. If the service is extended to Cannery Row, it will be necessary to determine what route to take, in order to get through that part of Monterey. I have walked on the bike trail in that area, and it seems to curve away from the old r.o.w. for around 1/3 of a mile.

(Back to TAMC meeting info):
A motion was passed to recommend signing a new contract with Parsons. The new contract will involve creating a much more detailed study of the Monterey Branch Line. Before awarding a contract, the plans will be discussed with AMBAG, to see if any money can be saved by using some of the results of the upcoming AMBAG study.

For the Caltrain extension (Gilroy to Salinas), there are plans to perform a track capacity analysis, to be finished by the end of the summer. Then TAMC can apply to the federal government to get permission to proceed to the next phase. The desire is to apply by September, which would allow TAMC to get some money from the New Starts Funding, for this year, rather than next year.

It appears likely that it will take until December to get some companies to bid on the contract for the next stage of the project. TAMC expects the cost to be about $10 million. A motion was passed to recommend that TAMC put the contract for the next stage, out for bids in December.

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