Fairfield looks at train station agreements

By From page A3 | October 02, 2013

FAIRFIELD — Fairfield continues to get ready for the Fairfield-Vacaville train station and Peabody Road overcrossing project, with the hope that major construction can begin next summer.

The City Council on Tuesday approved various agreements with Union Pacific Railroad necessary for the project to go forward.

Fairfield wants to build a $68 million project that includes a train station along Vanden Road and a bridge taking Peabody Road over the nearby railroad tracks. Traffic on busy Peabody Road must presently wait for trains behind crossing arms.

The city’s failure to get a $9 million federal grant this summer put the project’s construction schedule at risk. The original schedule called for closing Peabody Road at the tracks for a year starting in June 2014 to build the overpass.

But Fairfield officials want to design a stripped-down, base project that would allow one of the city’s largest public works projects in years to go ahead as planned.

Union Pacific owns the railroad tracks along which the train station is to be located. That requires Fairfield to complete several agreements with the railroad company to move forward. The agreements allow Fairfield to build the Peabody Road overpass and a tunnel at the planned train station leading to a central boarding platform between the tracks.

Union Pacific must give Fairfield the right to be in its right of way, city Associate Civil Engineer Thanh Vuong said on Monday.

One part of the agreements calls for Fairfield to pay Union Pacific to do various track relocation and signalization work. The city report estimates the cost to be $9 million.

“Track work is something the city is not allowed to do,” Vuong said. “Union Pacific Railroad, they won’t let anyone else do their track work.”

Money for the train station project is coming from state, federal and regional sources, not the city’s general fund.

The train station is to be the centerpiece of a community that Fairfield wants to see built near Peabody Road. That community is to someday have up to 6,800 homes, businesses, shops, a town plaza, parks and an industrial area.

Fairfield and Vacaville have sought to build Solano County’s second train station since the mid-1990s. The county’s only station and only stop for the Capitol Corridor passenger trains is in downtown Suisun City.

Initial plans for the station were much simpler, merely a station along the tracks that could be built at a cost of about $10 million. Over the years, the project grew more complicated and more expensive, with the Peabody Road overcrossing among the major elements added.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

This version reflects action taken Tuesday by the City Council.

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.

Discussion | 9 comments

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  • CD BrooksOctober 01, 2013 - 7:12 am

    The overpass is long over due. The rest is incomprehensible when considering the other needs around this city.

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  • DerailedOctober 01, 2013 - 8:05 am

    Again this project is a waste of hard to get money, Fairfield can use this money in better ways...Maybe adding to police force? Reopen schools, etc...

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  • Rick WoodOctober 01, 2013 - 8:15 am

    I think you will find that this is a project being funded with categorical money, money that is earmarked for transportation projects. The City's general fund for discretionary projects remains depleted by the recession and state raids. Just guessing; I'm a water guy.

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  • B. ThiemerOctober 01, 2013 - 8:36 am

    Some gernal fund money and/or resources go to monitoring/administering/applying for the grant money, as well as general oversight of the project. Dropping the train station would entail some grant money being returned, but also would free up general fund resources for other things.

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  • Rick WoodOctober 01, 2013 - 8:41 am

    True, but it's not like the $68 million--or whatever it is--can be spent on other, admittedly more pressing, City needs.

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  • SteveOctober 01, 2013 - 8:23 am

    I agree with Rick. The funding for this project is with targeted transportation funds and most likely none of it could be used for police, fire, schools etc.

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  • CD BrooksOctober 01, 2013 - 8:53 am

    Steve, I think most people are aware of the funding. In fact, Mraz said it would "pay for itself." The problem becomes how to manage the area and associated homes planned along with it? The overpass is the only sensible item on this issue.

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  • B. ThiemerOctober 01, 2013 - 8:31 am

    Most Fairfieldians I've talked to agree we don't need the train station... that is the only agreement I think matters.

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  • Rick WoodOctober 01, 2013 - 8:52 am

    That may be, but most Fairfielders haven't had the conversation we just had. We DON'T “need” a train station, at least not like we need a lot of other things. But we have the money for a train station and it will still do a lot of good by being the focus of a new and innovative development area that would be hard to market otherwise. I'm not all that pro-development, but the property in question is not prime agricultural land or particularly valuable open space. It IS habitat for some endangered species and would be nice for the greenbelt between Fairfield and Vacaville, but the species impacts can be mitigated and "nice" is not good enough for the larger greenbelt. The remaining greenbelt will be adequate--if we can keep it.

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