DOWNTOWN/RIVERFRONT STREETCAR PROJECT
The Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) has partnered with the City of Sacramento, the City of West Sacramento, Yolo County Transportation District, Sacramento Regional Transit District, and the California Department of Transportation to undertake advanced planning, engineering, and environmental documentation for the Downtown/ Riverfront Corridor streetcar project connecting West Sacramento and Sacramento.
Significant levels of growth are projected to occur in the urban core of Sacramento and West Sacramento during the next 20 years. The two cities have approved land use entitlements for major urban infill projects including the Railyards, Bridge District, and Washington Area District. This projected growth would generate greater travel demand on local transit services and roadways. Given that this urban core is slated for higher density and intensity of land uses, the transportation facilities need to be augmented to provide transit service for shorter, local trips within the core across the Sacramento River. Focusing transit circulation within the urban core would be conducive to achieving planned urban development and redevelopment goals, foster economic development, and reduce traffic congestion and the need for additional parking facilities.
In 2006, the City of West Sacramento in cooperation with the other sponsor agencies prepared a feasibility study for the implementation of improved transit service. The feasibility study, which included a discussion of technology, alignment, financing opportunities, and operating plans, was summarized in the Phase 1 Summary Report, Downtown/Riverfront Streetcar Study. The City Council of West Sacramento adopted the findings of the Phase 1 report on May 9, 2007.
Following the adoption of the Phase 1 report, the City of West Sacramento completed a project-level Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that evaluated a streetcar line that would connect West Sacramento with the City of Sacramento via Tower Bridge. Subsequent to the adoption of the Final EIR, SACOG conducted additional planning studies and outreach to stakeholders to identify funding options and further refine the alignment. These studies were finalized in 2012 with the completion of the Sacramento Streetcar System Plan and the selection of a Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) for a Starter Line.
The proposed 3.3-mile streetcar alignment would extend from the West Sacramento Civic Center to the Midtown entertainment and retail district in the City of Sacramento. Mixed-use neighborhoods in the Washington Neighborhood (designated as a Transit Priority Area), the Bridge District, and the Railyards Specific Plan Area have been planned around a future high-quality transit system intended to serve these new and emerging employment and residential districts. Several key destinations within these neighborhoods would be connected by the project including: Raley Field, home of the Sacramento Rivercats AAA baseball team; the Sacramento Intermodal Transportation Facility in the Railyards Specific Plan area (the largest urban infill project in the country and the planned terminus of the California High-Speed Rail system); Downtown Plaza Mall; the historic Memorial Auditorium; the Sacramento Community Center Theater; the California State Capitol building; and the Sacramento Convention Center. The alignment would follow portions of West Capitol Avenue and Tower Bridge Gateway in West Sacramento before crossing Tower Bridge and following portions of Capitol Mall, 3rd, 7th, 8th, 13th, 19th, H, J, K, and L Streets in Sacramento. Streetcar stops (stations) would be spaced every few blocks along the alignment. The project would include options for two maintenance facility sites; one in West Sacramento in the vicinity of South River Road beneath the US 50/Business I-80 freeway; and one in the City of Sacramento the vicinity of 19th Street beneath the US 50/Business I-80 freeway. The streetcars would operate in mixedflow traffic without any physical lane separation. The project would be designed to minimize the acquisition of new right-of-way.
PRELIMINARY SCHEDULE MILESTONES
The currently proposed alignment for the streetcar line requires additional environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Federal funding would trigger the need for review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). However, because the project was previously evaluated in an EIR, and the project would be designed to minimize impacts (including limiting right-of-way acquisition), a more focused and streamlined environmental review is anticipated.