CAPITOL CORRIDOR JOINT POWERS AUTHORITY SOUTH BAY CONNECT PROJECT
The Capitol Corridor passenger rail system provides transit service between the greater Sacramento region, the East Bay, and Silicon Valley/San Jose. The South Bay Connect (SBC) project aims to enhance the Capitol Corridor service with a more direct connection between Oakland and San Jose. The key changes in Fremont include relocating the Capitol trains from the Niles Subdivision (though the Niles and Centerville communities) to the Coast Subdivision (through the Ardenwood community). The project would discontinue Capitol Corridor passenger service at the Centerville Station (ACE trains would continue to stop there) and add a new train station in Ardenwood, adjacent to the current Ardenwood park-and-ride lot. A map of the proposed alignment changes is shown below.
The project is at the beginning of the environment review phase. The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) project team recently initiated community outreach to identify issues to be addressed in a draft environmental impact report planned for public release in Fall 2021. If the project is approved and full construction funding is provided, the changes proposed by the South Bay Connect project could be in place by 2026. Approval of the project is subject to action by the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Board, which includes elected officials from the BART Board representing the Bay Area.
- Fremont environmental considerations. The project represents a shift in the location of the Capitol Corridor trains from Niles/Centerville to Ardenwood which creates changes in the location of train-related environmental impacts. The current alignment has approximately 14 daily at-grade train crossings of City streets which causes traffic disruption and train horn blasts at six locations (Nursery, Shinn, Fremont, Maple, Dusterberry, and Blacow). The Ardenwood alignment has no at-grade crossings of City streets, but does have some in the adjacent cities of Union City and Newark.
- Station relocation considerations. Rail passenger activity at the Centerville station is 90% associated with Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) trains and 10% with Capitol Corridor trains. South of Centerville, the ACE and Capitol trains have the same station stops and destination. Relocation of the Capitol trains helps facilitate a planned expansion of ACE service. A new Capitol station in Ardenwood would have significantly higher transit ridership (than at Centerville) due to direct connectivity with the Dumbarton Express Bus and proximity to the Ardenwood Business Park, which is home to Facebook, other innovation companies, and the 42 Silicon Valley technology college. A separate project related to the SBC project is being studied to optimize the connection between the various bus services and the new Capitol Corridor station in Ardenwood.
- Possible freight rail relocation and frequency changes. Consideration has been given to relocating Union Pacific (UP) freight trains from the Coast Subdivision to a modified configuration of the Niles and Oakland Subdivision that runs along the west side of Niles, but there are no defined plans or commitments by UP at this time to make any changes. CCJPA staff are currently working with UP to determine whether the project will result in relocation of any freight trains and if so how many. All three rail corridors are owned and managed by UP, and they have the authority to change their operations based on market demands and their business interests without environmental review. Should the project result in the relocation of freight trains onto the Niles and Oakland Subdivision it could create new noise and vibration impacts along the western edge of Niles. If it is determined that the project would result in the relocation of freight trains the impacts would be analyzed as part of the draft EIR. At this time, there is no expectation that there will be any increase in the total number of freight or Capitol Corridor trains as a result of this project.
For more information about the Capitol Corridor South Bay Connect Project, please visit the South Bay Connect website at www.southbayconnect.com.
To learn more about the Capitol Corridor Intercity Rail service and operations visit https://www.capitolcorridor.org/.
SBC Community Working Group
The SBC project team is in the process of forming Community Working Group’s (CWG) to ensure stakeholder representation from all the affected cities along the project corridor to better involve the community in the project as it moves forward. CWG’s are intended to be community-based forums that promote opportunity for diverse viewpoints to be heard within a safe and open space and facilitate education, understanding, and informed input in the project planning process.
The principal objective of the CWG is to create diverse focus groups to come together several times over the course of project development to share information as well as identify and address community concerns. Activities will include hosted meetings (virtual or in-person as appropriate) with ongoing coordination, and e-blast communication. It is anticipated the meeting frequency will be quarterly or timed to integrate with technical milestones (up to four meetings over the course of roughly one year). The meetings will be led by Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) staff and supported by the SBC consultant team.
CCJPA staff are currently working on an application process for individuals interested in becoming a member of the Community Working Group. At this time it is expected that there will be ten members from Fremont from the areas most affected by the project with two members each representing Ardenwood neighborhoods, Ardenwood businesses, Centerville and Niles as well as two members from the City’s Mobility Commission to represent the mobility needs of the city as a whole. If you are interested in becoming a member of the CWG, please fill out the application in the link below and send it to ShirleyQ@capitolcorridor.org by January 18, 2021.