Salinas revelopment includes Amtrak station

and the TAMC March Meeting Report
By Chris Flescher, RailPAC Associate Director

Planners, working for the city of Salinas, are currently creating a plan that would significantly redevelop the downtown area.
I attended a public meeting that described many aspects of the plan. The plan may be finalized in about two years from now, and the actual redevelopment could start soon after. Some of the plan involves making the downtown more pedestrian friendly and safer, and some includes mixed use development. salinas-amtrak-station-exterior-with-bus One part of the plan involves working with TAMC, when TAMC rebuilds the Amtrak train station into an intermodal center (with the MST bus center next to it, and the Greyhound bus station next to it).

The plan would increase the visibility of the train station from the core downtown area, along with making it easier to walk between the two locations. At this time, the train station is very close to the core downtown area, but it is not really visible from there. Also, walking from one to the other requires the crossing of a wide, busy, and pedestrian-unfriendly street.

Here is the TAMC meeting info:

TAMC Rail Policy Committee meeting March 2, 2009

For the Monterey Branch Line (MBL) alternatives analysis, the Rail Policy Committee (RPC) wants to receive all comments by the end of April. At this time, finding money for both capital (infrastructure) and operations will be difficult.

The timeline for this year has changed. The alternatives analysis will take place in April. From May to August, phasing alternatives will be analyzed. One favored alternative will be selected in September, and creating the environmental reports will also begin at that time. The phasing alternatives means that in order to save some money, the RPC would like to consider building some stations after the system is already running.

There is a regional model of travel, created by the government agency Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments (AMBAG). It provides estimates of total travel between cities, now and in future years. There was a Monterey Salinas Transit (MST) ridership survey, which showed where people were going on transit, and it has been altered for expected seasonal variation. When using the current AMBAG model, it came very close to replicating the actual MST ridership.

For future ridership, the model considers changes in population, employment, and land use. It also takes into account the fact that BRT and LRT are faster than regular bus service, and they make fewer stops than regular bus service.

The prediction is that by 2015, there will not be a lot of new development (near the MBL). For example, some shopping centers are under construction or are being considered. In the year 2015, the construction might not be complete, and all the spaces might not be occupied with stores. The Marina Station development and The Dunes development could be partly open in 2015. If or when these developments (and some others) open (and when they are completed), that should increase ridership on the MBL.

The expected timeline for the MBL is now the following:

Engineering and Design 2010-2012

Construction 2013-2014

Start Service 2014-2015

As mentioned above, one way to reduce costs at first would be to have some stations open later than the time the service begins.

In April, TAMC will be conducting another transit tour. This will be similar to the one which happened last year, and took participants on some BRT and rail lines in the Los Angeles and San Diego areas. The purpose is to allow people who missed the first tour to take part in the second one.

(Russ Jackson photo)

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