Join the Virtual Scoping Meetings (via Zoom)
Tuesday, June 30, 2020, 6:30 – 8:00 pm
Phone: 669-900-6833, Webinar ID: 890 7708 6925 #
Reminder: Scoping Comments are due by 5:00 pm on July 7, 2020. Comments may be provided by mail, email, or by using the submission form on this webpage. See more information below.
PROJECT OVERVIEW AND BACKGROUND
The ACE Ceres-Merced Extension Project is a key component of the Valley Rail Program, which envisions extensions of the Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) Service northward to Sacramento and southward to Merced and expansion of the San Joaquins between the San Joaquin Valley and Sacramento. Three other ACE-related Valley Rail projects are currently in development to implement this expanded ACE service – the Valley Rail Sacramento Extension Project (currently in project-level environmental clearance phase), the ACE Extension Lathrop to Ceres/Merced Project (currently in the final design phase for Lathrop to Ceres), and the Stockton Diamond Grade Separation Project (currently in preliminary design and project-level environmental clearance phase). The ACE Ceres-Merced Extension Project (Project) will complete the project-level environmental clearance for the ACE extension to Merced associated with the Valley Rail Program, which result in an environmental impact report for the Project.
Description of the Project
SJRRC proposes to extend ACE passenger rail service from Ceres to Merced by upgrading some existing tracks and constructing new tracks at certain locations within the existing UPRR Fresno Subdivision right-of-way (ROW) over a total distance of approximately 34 miles. Three new stations and a layover and maintenance facility would be constructed along the extension alignment (see site map below).
The Project would consist of the following:
- A Ceres to Merced Extension Alignment consisting of upgrades and new tracks and bridges within the UPRR Fresno Subdivision between Ceres and Merced;
- New Turlock, Livingston or Atwater, and Merced Stations along the extension alignment; and
- A new permanent Merced Layover & Maintenance Facility to support extension operations.
Purpose of Project
The Project purpose is to address growing traffic congestion, unhealthy air quality, climate change, and a general lack of access to rail transportation in the San Joaquin Valley. The Project proposes to address these issues by extending and enhancing ACE passenger rail service significantly within the San Joaquin Valley, as well as providing a connection between ACE service and future high-speed rail service in Merced, which would integrate ACE service into a unified northern California rail network. These aspects of the project will reduce the need for automobile use, thereby reducing traffic congestion, improving air quality and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Environmental Clearance of the Project
SJRRC will prepare an EIR in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The purpose of the EIR is to evaluate the environmental issues associated with the proposed improvements included in the Project. This new project-level EIR will be tiered from the programmatic analysis in the EIR completes for ACE Extension Lathrop to Ceres/Merced Project the and, thus, where appropriate, the new EIR will incorporate analysis from the prior analysis. The EIR will assess and inform the public about potential impacts of the Project, including mitigation measures, where necessary. Once this environmental review process is complete, the Project can move forward to permitting, final design and construction. A project timeline can be found below.
Who is the Lead Agency?
The San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC) is the lead agency for this effort. To help ensure a successful process, the SJRRC is working closely with local stakeholders, including the Counties and Cities where the Project would be located.
What Has Been Completed to Date?
- As part of Senate Bill (SB) 132 passed in April 2017, the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC) was awarded $400 million for the ACE service expansion in the San Joaquin Valley, including associated system improvements.
- SJRRC completed an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the ACE Extension Lathrop to Ceres/Merced Project in 2018, which was approved by the SJRRC Board of Commissioners on August 3, 2018. This EIR analyzed the Phase I of the extension of ACE from Lathrop to Ceres at a project-level detail and Phase II of the extension of ACE from Ceres to Merced at a programmatic level of detail.
- SJRRC is now preparing an EIR for the current project – ACE Ceres–Merced Extension Project – which will analyze the potential environmental impacts from extending ACE between Ceres and Merced at a project-level detail.
- SJRRC filed a Notice of Preparation (NOP) for the ACE Ceres- Merced Extension Project EIR on May 28, 2020, which included information on public scoping meetings scheduled in June of 2020.
Key Project Milestones and Timeline
Notice of Preparation and Scoping Meetings
On Thursday, May 28, 2020 the SJJRC released a Notice of Preparation (NOP) of an EIR for the ACE Ceres-Merced Extension Project. The NOP can be downloaded here.
Due to current COVID-19 social distancing requirements, we are making adjustments to how we are reaching out to you. Please join us at one of our upcoming scoping meeting webinars to learn more about the project and the environmental review process currently underway.
Virtual Scoping Meeting #3 (Webinar)
Tuesday, June 30, 2020
6:30 – 8:00 pm
Can't make any of our scheduled webinars? Presentation materials for the virtual scoping meetings posted on this Project webpage soon after webinars are held.
Submit Scoping Comments
Written responses and comments on the scope of the ACE Ceres-Merced Extension Project will be accepted until 5:00 PM on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. Please send written comments to:
San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission
Attn: ACE Ceres–Merced Extension Project
949 East Channel Street
Stockton, CA 95202
Your comments may also be sent by email to MercedExtComments@acerail.com. Please include “ACE Ceres–Merced Extension Project” in the subject heading.
Additionally, you may use the submission form below to submit Scoping Comments. Please note this form cannot accommodate attachments.
SJRRC and the Project Team want to hear from you!
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You can also use this form to provide Scoping Comments during the comment period, until 5 pm on July 7, 2020. Please note this form cannot accommodate attachments.