TAMC May Meeting Report

TAMC Rail Policy Committee meeting May 4, 2009.
Reported by Chris Flescher
TAMC is trying to find a consultant to write the environmental documents relating to the Monterey Branch Line (MBL) service.

TAMC released a request for proposals, but Parsons-Brinkerhoff was the only group that responded. Parsons has already performed some work on both the Caltrain to Salinas and MBL projects.

The current plan is to select the preferred alternative for the MBL in September. Between now and the end of August, TAMC will formally study phasing alternatives, such as not constructing certain stations for a while, in order to save money.

The expected start of service is now 2014 or 2015. There will be a “Town Hall” meeting in Monterey on May 14.

For the Caltrain extension, TAMC has submitted what they called a “Make the Case” document. It includes a map showing all the connecting bus services, and it is a requirement to qualify for Federal New Starts money. TAMC also finished a Cultural Resources Technical Report.

TAMC is trying to get a “Hardship Acquisition” finding with one property owner near the Salinas train station. The owner supports the project but wants to sell the property soon. Receiving such a finding would allow TAMC to buy the property now, even though the station area plans are not complete. The property is necessary for the future Intermodal Station.

In the future, Salinas Renaissance Partners (SRP) will make presentations to the Salinas City Council and Monterey County Board of Supervisors about their proposed downtown Salinas redevelopment plan. SRP is the group that recently had several planning sessions in Salinas to refine their ideas for redevelopment of a section of downtown that includes the train station, the library, the City Hall, and the police station. TAMC supports the idea of building a parking garage on top of what is now a parking lot, next to the train station.

The State Coastal Coalition wrote a letter to TAMC, saying they support Site 1 for the proposed Castroville Station, although TAMC greatly prefers Site 2 for several reasons. Around Site 1 is mostly industry, so creating pedestrian-friendly (residential and commercial) development next to it would be difficult. The problem with Site 2 is that developing it would cause some permanent loss of farmland. If the station goes on Site 2, TAMC may be required to replace the farmland loss in a 2 to 1 ratio. The City of Castroville is updating their general plan, and TAMC may end up applying for permission (from the Coastal Commission) to build the station separately from the Castroville application (to the Coastal Commission) to create the new city general plan.

Chairman Dave Potter recently met with the Amtrak president, Joseph Boardman, who said that Amtrak is interested in partnering with local cities and organizations to promote train travel. Potter and the president discussed the efforts to start the Coast Daylight train. They were in a business car attached to the end of the regular Coast Starlight train, and Pete Rodgers was there too.

Recently TAMC sent a letter to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), asking the FTA to support the Caltrain extension. The letter was signed by all the Federal Representatives in districts that the current Caltrain line passes through, as well as both California Senators.

TAMC will look at the schedules to see if a Capitol Corridor extension to Salinas would be possible.

The Salinas Renaissance Partners has a long term plan to put a block of Market Street in a tunnel near the train station. This would encourage more people to walk between downtown and the train station, because they would not have to deal with crossing the wide and very busy street.

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