Local Agency Sponsored Projects
The role of the California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) as federal lead agency is authorized under the Surface Transportation Project Delivery Program, otherwise known as National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Assignment, established in Section 327 of Title 23 of the U.S. Code, and a July 23, 2019, Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the State of California (State) acting through the California State Transportation Agency and the Authority. The MOU provides that the FRA assigns, and the State assumes, the FRA’s responsibilities for compliance with NEPA, and other federal environmental laws, with respect to the railroad projects identified in the MOU, including responsibilities for environmental review, consultation and other required action. For purposes of carrying out the responsibilities assigned under the MOU, the State is deemed to be acting as the FRA. These assigned federal responsibilities are performed by the Authority, with oversight by the California State Transportation Agency and the State. The railroad projects assigned to the State in the MOU include the Authority’s projects, certain rail projects directly connected to stations on the California High-Speed Rail System and the ACEforward project within the Altamont Corridor Express system. The proposed Stockton Diamond project is sponsored by the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC) and is a part of the ACEforward suite of projects.
Project: Stockton Diamond Grade Separation
Project: Stockton Diamond Grade Separation
Project Sponsor: San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC)
Project Status: The 30-day public comment period for the Draft EA closed on April 27, 2022. The Authority and SJRRC will continue the NEPA process by reviewing comments, providing responses, and preparing the Final EA. Please refer to the SJRRC project website for more information on current status and opportunities for public engagement.
The San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC) proposes to construct the Stockton Diamond Grade Separation Project (proposed Project), a critical passenger and freight mobility project that would construct a grade separation of the BNSF Railway (BNSF) and Union Pacific Railroad (UP) freight rail lines at the existing Stockton Diamond rail intersection. The SJRRC is the lead agency under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and joint lead agency under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) is the federal lead agency under the NEPA Assignment Program.
On August 19, 2020, SJRRC officially launched the environmental review process for the proposed Stockton Diamond Grade Separation Project (proposed Project) with a Notice of Preparation (NOP) for an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). When the NOP was issued, the environmental document was presented to stakeholders and the public as a joint CEQA/NEPA document. SJRRC, as the CEQA Lead Agency in coordination with the Authority as the NEPA Lead Agency, under assignment from the FRA, was to prepare an EIR/Environmental Assessment (EA). Due to funding deadline considerations, the CEQA/NEPA document was split, and SJRRC prepared an EIR for the proposed Project, which was adopted by the SJRRC Board on June 4, 2021. SJRRC and the Authority have jointly prepared a Draft EA for the Project in conformance with NEPA. SJRRC is the Project sponsor and joint lead agency under NEPA.
The proposed Project is located just south of Downtown Stockton near South Aurora Street and East Scotts Avenue in the City of Stockton in San Joaquin County, California. The area of impacts is bounded by Robert J. Cabral Station to the north; the UP Stockton Yard to the south, located approximately at East Fourth Street; South Pilgrim Street to the east; and South Grant Street to the west (See Figure 1 below).
The proposed Project would construct a grade separation of the BNSF and UP rail lines to reduce rail congestion and allow passenger and freight rail traffic to flow uninterrupted through the crossing. Currently, the BNSF Stockton Subdivision and the UP Fresno Subdivision consist of two main tracks each, and they intersect each other at a level, at a grade crossing known as the Stockton Diamond. This rail intersection is the busiest at-grade railway junction in California. The at-grade crossing experiences substantial congestion and delays service for passengers and freight throughout the Central Valley—and for freight on the broader national network. The current, at-grade configuration of the tracks results in critical delays to passenger and freight trains in the area, including those serving the Port of Stockton. Train congestion also causes vehicle delays at roadway-rail crossings and creates potential motor vehicle, rail, bicycle, and pedestrian conflicts. Reducing those conflicts improves safety, access, and mobility for City of Stockton residents through crossing closures, as well as bike, pedestrian, and roadway improvements at multiple roadway/railway grade crossings.
The SJRRC manages the Altamont Corridor Express program of passenger rail projects that connect Stockton and San Jose. The San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority (SJJPA) manages the Amtrak San Joaquins intercity passenger rail service. The current ACE and San Joaquins intercity passenger rail services are constrained by the at-grade Stockton Diamond Interlock at-grade crossing, which can reduce reliability and on-time performance for both passenger and freight rail service. The proposed grade separation would help improve the operational performance for SJRRC and the SJJPA as they provide service between the Central Valley, Sacramento, and San Francisco Bay Area. Transit in San Joaquin County is also important to the region and includes a system of bus rapid transit, intercity and interregional bus transit services, ACE commuter rail service, and San Joaquins intercity rail service.
The reduction in rail congestion with the implementation of this Project would reduce delays for passenger and freight rail providers, improve freight mobility, reduce travel times, and increase safety for motor vehicle, bicyclist, pedestrian, and train traffic. It also would reduce locomotive and automobile idling and air emissions.
The proposed Project’s public benefits would extend to motorists, pedestrians, rail passengers, freight shippers, and residents throughout the region. Additional benefits would include reduced fuel consumption, lower freight rail transportation costs, and improved travel times and reliability. As described and explained in the Draft EA, the proposed Project would result in overall beneficial effects on long-term air quality, traffic and transportation, and visual quality and aesthetics in the Project Study Area.
FIGURE 1. PROJECT STUDY AREA
PROJECT SECTION DETAILS
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