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RailPAC sends letters to California’s U.S. Senators in Support of Coachella Valley Rail project funding

[same letter also sent to U.S. Senators Alex Padilla]

The Honorable Dianne Feinstein

United States Senate

331 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

April 2, 2022

Subject: Support funding for the Coachella Valley-San Gorgonio Pass Rail Corridor Service

Dear Senator Feinstein:

The Rail Passengers Association of California and Nevada (RailPAC) fully supports the for the Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC) Congressionally Directed Spending request of $5 million for the Coachella Valley-San Gorgonio Pass Rail Corridor Service (Project) Tier II Project Approval and Environmental Documentation phase.

RailPAC is a 501c3 volunteer group of railroad professionals and advocates that has campaigned for improved personal mobility in California and the west since 1978. RailPAC applauds this effort to advance additional intercity rail service between Los Angeles Union Station and the Coachella Valley. This new passenger rail service has long been a goal of our organization, the California State Rail Plan, and Riverside County, and has been studied at least seven times by public agencies since the early 1990s. The time for action is now.

The 144-mile route would serve Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, and Riverside Counties

into the Coachella Valley. The Service Development Plan and National Environmental Policy Act/California Environmental Quality Act (NEPA/CEQA) Tier I environmental clearance for the corridor is expected to be approved this year. With your support, the requested funds would help advance both the NEPA/CEQA Tier II Project Approval and the Environmental Documentation phase of the Project, the next step toward construction.

Both Congress and the State Legislature have prioritized investment in transportation projects

that reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT), ensure equity and access, and support a climate-resilient future. To meet these goals, RCTC is working with the California Department of

Transportation (Caltrans) and the Federal Rail Administration to environmentally clear this new

inter-city passenger rail service corridor. The Coachella Valley-San Gorgonio Pass Rail Service Project is a once-in-a-generation and regionally transformational project that will connect our diverse communities, spur economic growth and prosperity, and provide mobility options to our growing region. For these reasons, we are proud to support this request for Congressionally Directed Spending.

Given the capital costs of the third mainline track proposed from Colton to the Coachella Valley, RailPAC wants to emphasize the variety of benefits to passenger and freight rail that are possible with this investment in additional track capacity. Any proposed service in the Project corridor, and the capital improvements associated with it, is a building block for future service improvements and expansion.  Laying the foundation for future expansion adds significant public value to the Project. Examples of this expansion include:

  • Greater frequency and speed of CVR passenger trains, and extension south to the Imperial Valley
  • Daily Amtrak Sunset Limited
  • Benefits to Union Pacific freight rail
  • New California-Arizona regional passenger services

The State of California and RCTC are investing in regional mobility and transportation infrastructure, as well as in sustainable freight and goods movement, and are committed to matching funds for the Coachella Valley Rail Project. This is a game-changing economic opportunity with environmental benefit to all communities along the route from Los Angeles to Coachella Valley.

Sincerely,

Brian Yanity

Vice President- South and Board Member,

Rail Passenger Association of California and Nevada (RailPAC)

Robert Manning

President, Southwest Rail Passenger Association

Board Member, Rail Passenger Association of California and Nevada (RailPAC)