FAIRFIELD — Fairfield’s quest to get a $9 million federal grant for its planned train station has failed, raising questions about when the station and the related Peabody Road overcrossing will be built.
The project is to cost $68 million and include not only building the Fairfield-Vacaville train station, but taking Peabody Road over the railroad tracks on a bridge. The $9 million grant would have provided the final piece of funding.
Fairfield City Engineer Steven Hartwig said Thursday that the Peabody Road overpass construction and train station construction are linked, in part because of rail relocation work. He couldn’t say for certain if the overpass construction will start next summer as planned, though he didn’t rule it out.
“That’s one of the things we’re looking at, does it put it in jeopardy?” Hartwig said. “I don’t have the answer today.”
The Peabody Road overcrossing is to be one of the city’s biggest public works undertakings in recent years. It involves closing the section of Peabody Road at the railroad tracks near Vanden Road for a year, with the expected payoff of a wider road without the crossing arms that back up traffic each time a train passes.
Peabody Road is a major link between Fairfield and Vacaville and carries rush-hour traffic going to local schools, businesses and the area’s largest employer, Travis Air Force Base. Union Pacific required the overcrossing to be built before allowing a train station along its tracks.
The train station itself is to be a focal point of Fairfield’s planned train station community, which is to have more than 6,000 homes, a Main Street-like business area, an industrial area and parks. The Capitol Corridor trains are to stop at the station on their way between Sacramento and San Jose.
“We won’t build the overpass and not build the station at the same time,” Hartwig said. “We have to do the two in conjunction.”
Fairfield is looking at whether a stripped-down version of the train station – a first phase – can still go forward on schedule. A base project would include parking for the station, the rail boarding platform between the railroad tracks, an underpass to reach the platform and a plaza for buses.
Hartwig said Fairfield is also working with the Solano Transportation Authority and Metropolitan Transportation Commission to look at other funding sources for the $9 million. Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, is also involved, he said.
Fairfield for three years has tried to get a federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant, or TIGER grant, for the last piece of train station funding.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on Thursday announced 52 transportation projects that will split $474 million in available TIGER grant money. Only three California projects made the grantee list: a Highway 89 railroad undercrossing in Truckee got $1.5 million, Pacific Surfliner train bridges in the San Diego area received $14 million and Fulton Mall reconstruction in Fresno got $15.9 million.
Fairfield faced stiff competition to get a piece of that available $474 million. The Department of Transportation received 585 applications from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam totaling more than $9 billion.
“I thought for sure this third time we’d get it,” Hartwig said. “That just shows you the infrastructure needs out there are tremendous.”
Fairfield wants to open the train station in late 2015 or early 2016, if it can keep the project on schedule without the TIGER grant.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.