FAIRFIELD — Fairfield is close to wrapping up money needed to start major work on the Fairfield-Vacaville train station and related Peabody Road overpass in summer 2015.
The California Transportation Commission meets Wednesday in San Diego. It will decide whether to allot $11 million toward the project from Proposition 1B, the $19.9 billion transportation bond passed by voters statewide in 2006.
Getting the $11 million Proposition 1B money would provide a major funding piece needed for the first phase of a train station project, estimated to cost $68 million to $71.8 million.
This base project includes building a bridge to take Peabody Road over the railroad tracks near Vanden Road. Then traffic could move along busy Peabody Road without stopping for crossing arms every time a train passes by.
The base project also includes building a train stop nearby, with an 800-foot boarding platform between tracks that could be reached by a tunnel. By 2017, Capitol Corridor trains could be picking up passengers at the stop for trips to Sacramento and to the Bay Area.
More would remain to be built. The entire Fairfield-Vacaville train station project is to cost an estimated $81.5 million and also include a train station building and solar array. But the base project would be enough to establish a train stop, with the building and solar array to come another day.
Solano Transportation Authority Executive Director Daryl Halls will be in San Diego on Wednesday for the California Transportation Commission meeting. He said commission staff has recommended in favor of the train station funding and some commissioners have said they support the funding request. Still, Halls plans to be on hand to answer any questions.
“Until they vote on it, you just don’t know,” Halls said.
Getting the final pieces of funding for the train station base project has proven a challenge. Fairfield for three years competed unsuccessfully for a federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recover grant and planned to do so again this year for $11 million.
Instead, local transportation officials decided to try to get the Proposition 1B money. The Bay Area has a large number of TIGER grant requests and new rules would force Fairfield to compete with nationwide applications in an urban instead of rural category, a Solano Transportation Authority report said.
Meanwhile, a major piece of funding that city officials thought fairly secure evaporated. Fairfield had intended to take out a $12 million loan from the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank, with the repayment to come from developer fees. But the city recently learned the bank turned the request down.
That left Fairfield and the Solano Transportation Authority scrambling to find replacement money. They have worked to transfer money from the future Fairfield Transportation Center and Vacaville Transportation Center projects and future bus replacements. It’s a complicated swap of funds and future repayments.
Now, finally, the two agencies think they have the winning formula for the train station.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.