Sunday, March 29, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Tale of 2 train stations goes back a century

Train

Passengers exit a train while others board at the Suisun City train station. The train station on Main Street will get updates that include improved lighting and signage, remodeled restrooms, and making the area more accessable for people with disabilites. About 490 people pass through the station on an average day. (Adam Smith/Daily Republic)

By
From page A1 | March 30, 2014 |

FAIRFIELD — Suisun City has a train station, Fairfield plans to get one and officials from both cities seem happy with the situation.

What a difference a century makes. This is the 100th anniversary of the conclusion to a tug-of-war between the two cities, when railroad moguls decreed Fairfield-Suisun could have only one train station and both cities wanted it.

These days, there’s no train station war at all. Both cities will have their own.

Fairfield plans to start building its Fairfield-Vacaville train stop near Vanden and Peabody roads in 2015. The $81.5 million project includes building a bridge to take busy Peabody Road over the tracks, a station building, a boarding platform between the tracks reached by a tunnel and a solar array.

A Fairfield train stop could open in 2017, with service from the Capitol Corridor line that runs between the Sacramento area and Bay Area. Commuters could take the train to the Bay Area Rapid Transit station in Richmond.

Meanwhile, Suisun City plans to update its Main Street station for the 21st century at a cost of $700,000. It plans to do painting, remodel restrooms, improve lighting and signage and make the area more easily traversed by people with disabilities.

Suisun City has had a train station since 1868. About 490 people get on and off trains there on an average day.

When the Fairfield train stop opens, the area will have two train stations within about 5 miles of each other. But local officials seem unafraid this is more than is needed.

Fairfield Public Works Director George Hicks talked about increasing overall ridership, not simply splitting up those riders already using the Suisun City station.

Suisun City Mayor Pete Sanchez isn’t worried that a new Fairfield station will send his city’s long-established station into eclipse. One reason is the Suisun City station is in the established, historic Old Town area. Fairfield’s is targeted for an area with a few subdivisions and businesses such as storage yards, but no real attractions.

“Of course, Suisun City will be less important, but it won’t be for another 10 years, unless Fairfield can come up with a waterfront and the kind of restaurants we have,” Sanchez said.

Fairfield plans for developers to build 6,000 homes, a Main Street-style business area, parks and industry around its train station in coming decades. But even then, Sanchez sees the Suisun City station continuing to thrive. Suisun City may become a destination for those new Fairfield residents who are only a short train ride away, he said.

“It will be a boom for Suisun City,” Sanchez said.

Solano County Supervisor Jim Spering served as mayor of Suisun City from 1986 to 2006 and played a role in revitalizing the Suisun City station in the early 1990s. He also sits on the Capitol Corridor board of directors.

The Fairfield station will pick riders from Vacaville, parts of Fairfield and Travis Air Force Base who don’t use the Suisun City station, Spering said.

Express trains might go straight from the Fairfield station to the Richmond BART station, Spering said. Trains leaving the Suisun City station stop at the Martinez station along the way.

Yet he sees the Suisun City station continuing to have daily Capitol Corridor runs to the Bay Area, even if those express trains pass it up.

“By the time that Fairfield station opens, we’re going to have additional trains,” Spering said.

So each city will apparently have its own station. A train station dispute like the one that broke out 100 years ago will be avoided.

Suisun City got its station when the California Pacific Railroad built the region’s first rail line. The first train ran from Vallejo to Suisun City in 1868. The few hundred people who lived in the area in these pioneer days had another way to get around besides by foot, horse or boat.

But that station was located several blocks south from its present location, at the end of Solano Street, in the middle of Suisun City, several blocks from neighboring Fairfield.

Suisun City’s train station became part of that town’s identity. Meanwhile, residents in Fairfield wished their town had a station, too.

In 1912, Fairfield stopped wishing and started acting. The town in March of that year sued to compel Southern Pacific – the latest owner of the rail line – to build it a station, too, little more than a half-mile north from the Suisun City station.

On March 19, 1912, the State Railroad Commission conducted a hearing at the Solano County Courthouse in Fairfield. Southern Pacific officials said the company could not afford to have two stations so close together to serve 1,500 residents who lived in the two towns.

Southern Pacific asked Suisun City to show why the existing depot shouldn’t be moved toward Fairfield to serve both towns.

That idea didn’t fly in Suisun City. The Suisun City-based Solano Republican reported that, while Suisun City didn’t want to interfere with Fairfield’s interests, neither did it want to sacrifice its own.

Fairfield won the battle. The depot moved a few blocks to its present location. No longer was it called the Suisun station.

“Suisun-Fairfield! Change cars for Vallejo, Napa and Santa Rosa,” brakemen yelled on March 25, 1914, for the first time.

Suisun City apparently decided to make the best of the decision.

“The change of the passenger depot is one of the events which will help bridge the differences felt in the past and unite the two towns that never should have been separated,” the Solano Republican said.

Still, Suisun City in another sense won the battle. The Suisun-Fairfield station today is within the city boundaries of Suisun City. Fairfield has no station in its boundaries.

That could change within a few years, when both cities finally have a station of their own.

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

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.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 15 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • LilMarch 30, 2014 - 12:28 am

    First, express trains are not even mentioned in Amtrak's updated business plan. So where is Spering coming up with this? I would ask him but he does not respond to questions from his constituents. Spering, can you point to any kind of information that references express trains being created? Second, the 490 people who get on and off does not represent 490 unique individuals. According to Capitol Corridor, about 70% of people who use the train are commuting to work. If you commute one way, you have to commute the other way. So at least 70% of that 490 number are people being counted twice (on and off). Break it down and that number actually represents 318 unique people. Even if a new station doesn't take away any of the existing passengers but lures in the same amount, that is only 318 people. So we are building an $81.5 station so that MAYBE 318 people will take the train? How does this make sense to anybody? Third, does Sanchez really think that this is not going to persuade people not to take use Suisun's station? Of course this station will siphon off people. Especially if Spering's "express" trains skip Suisun. Since 70% of riders are commuters, they are going to take the express train and not use Suisun. Mr. Sanchez, 70% of train riders are commuters and are not using your station just because of nearby restaurants. What a waste of money this is.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • HKMarch 30, 2014 - 5:11 am

    The potential for Spering's property out there to appreciate is all the source he needs.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rick WoodMarch 30, 2014 - 12:30 am

    Now, that's the first time I've heard that the DR once had the editorial opinion that "two towns...never should have been separated." It's as true today as it was then. The dead hands of Captains Wing and Waterman guide our emotions today. Isn't it about time that we leave those ghosts behind us?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • FedUpMarch 30, 2014 - 7:03 am

    I used to commute by Amtrak. I really do not understand why the Old Court House parking lot, across the rail bridge in Fairfield, now stores trash cans and recycle bins for Solano Garbage. It could be used for commuter parking so people could walk over the railway bridge to the Suisun Train Station instead of driving over to Suisun from Fairfield on Highway 12. That is a waste of time, gas and is inefficient. I live in downtown Fairfield. I hate having to drive out if my way to get to the station. Now sure who can fix this but it makes no sense.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksMarch 30, 2014 - 7:42 am

    No majority in this city to my recollection supported the FF station since the idea was first presented. I think most agreed no station, no houses but absolutely build the overpass on Peabody. The council conveniently tied the overpass to the station project and it has been on ever since. We ALL know cost overruns and delays are a standard here and we ALL know that station is not what the majority wants. I believe that all funding should be directed to build the overpass first. Then create parking, security and shuttles if necessary for the Transportation Center. Direct further funding to the SS train station and surrounding areas to be redesigned or whatever it takes to make that a feasible option. Public transportation has to be available, efficient and affordable. If you build it they will come, IF you provide convenience and enough parking to encourage their support.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • S KApril 01, 2014 - 7:35 am

    IMO, has to be one of THE BIGGEST DumbArse things that I have read about, that the local politicals want to do. Just as the train is getting up some steam leaving one station, it will again have to slow down, coming to a stop mere miles apart, DUMB DUMB DUMB>>Your tax dollars being thrown down the toilet. Remember ALL THIS come election time!!!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • BobMarch 30, 2014 - 8:04 am

    That's the same game Spearing ran in Suisun Gave his property to his Aunt, when he left Suisun politics and got the land back his redevelopment had made him money and left the city to pay back funds it kept Of course Pothole Pete would like anything Jim told him We need to VOTE this bunch out or home owners are going to be left holding the bag for the return of the spent redevelopment funds

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • HKMarch 30, 2014 - 4:04 pm

    I agree, but how will these guys get voted out if the DR can't or won't report on Spering's conflict of interest?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • TylerMarch 30, 2014 - 8:13 am

    The new train station is only the excuse to build Traintown. Those thousands of new homes have to fulfill the wishes of both AB32 to reduce air pollution and ABAG to site new housing in high density "walkable communities" near transit. No transit? No problem, just build a train station! But the train is an expensive way to commute. I don't believe the type of wages that will buy a high density townhome between FF and Vacaville will also pay for an expensive commute mode. And never mind merging FF and Suisun; this will yield a giant merge of FF and Vacaville.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • FredMarch 30, 2014 - 9:15 am

    The only thing Fairfield has managed to accomplish here is another vacant lot with a sign on it (even without an RDA). As far as that area goes, who would want to live in there? Right next to an airbase with a wonderful view of NBR (hope ya don't get a chemical leak). But then it's not like those folks can see anything other than there neighbor with those zero lot lines. We already had Cordelia isolated over by 680 & now Fairfield builds up another isolated area. Those in Cordelia complain about police coverage & response time as it is & now we will get another similar problem. City Management at its finest as usual. Keep up the great job Mraz et al, you are maintaining a great Fairfield tradition...And way to go Pete Sanchez with the Fairfield slap down...

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JagMarch 30, 2014 - 9:43 am

    There is another side of this to, (Yep) good old Harry this guy has got to go. I keep saying the young people of Fairfield have got to get out and out vote the senior citizen of this city to get this guy out, I hate to make it an age war but that is what it has become, I remember when Brian (the deputy) guy was running for city council he was saying he would vote to stop it but then Pam won and she fell right into line with the rest, I think we need 3 or for people to run together as a group on a platform that they will stop the station and NOT build new home and they could have a lot of backing.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • FredMarch 30, 2014 - 10:44 am

    They all need to go especially Mraz & Moy, as well as price. Unfortunately someone that is said to be running again is Chuck Timm & that's just going to be more of the SOS. And watch out for the new City Manager, David White. You have to wonder why employees are bailing City Hall in droves.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • EnVeeMarch 30, 2014 - 8:05 pm

    Absolute waste of Taxpayers money to have two stations in 5 miles IMHO. The Suisun station is perfect and renovations to it makes sense. The money spent on the other station could have been spent in the bus station instead.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • RobertMarch 30, 2014 - 8:55 pm

    Please DR, tell us about the conflict of interest ! Its just like politics not to tell us about who's getting richer from the land around the big builds. Has Spering made a pocket-full from this area, and did he make any money from the other big builds in Suisun?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Clay D YoungbloodMarch 31, 2014 - 6:01 pm

    While working in the San Diego Area for decades, my family came back to Suisun on the Train, many times. I love the train. Me, Cathy and Joseph Youngblood.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Vanden High library project nears completion

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Vanden girls end stellar season

By Brian Arnold | From Page: C1, 1 Comment | Gallery

Cheers for Jupiter – and roller derby

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A2, 2 Comments

 
Red Cross volunteers help assemble first aid kits

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3 | Gallery

PG&E helps replace stolen equipment

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3

 
Justin-Siena names new principal

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3

 
Vacaville police make arrest after pursuit

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3, 3 Comments | Gallery

Vacaville bridal, quinceanera show a hit

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5

 
Event benefits child who attends Cambridge School

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Free paper shredding option returns to Fairfield

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Best barometer of investment success: Wealth

By Mark Sievers | From Page: B8

 
Tips on hydrozoning your garden

By Tina Saravia | From Page: B8, 2 Comments

 
Fairfield police log: March 27, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12, 2 Comments

 
Suisun City police log: March 27, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

.

US / World

Crash victim’s father calls for more focus on pilot welfare

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Experts: Sex bias case will embolden women despite verdict

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Popular Yosemite National Park lookout opens early in season

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Some British Airways frequent flier accounts miles breached

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

7 shot and injured at Florida spring break house party

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Boko Haram kills 39, legislator, disrupting Nigeria election

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

Official: Al-Shabab siege at Somali hotel ends, 24 dead

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
 
Bird flu found in a top Minnesota turkey producing county

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

Islamic fighters led by al-Qaida in Syria seize major city

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
.

Living

Today in History: March 29, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: March 29, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Pope finds popularity and dissent at 2-year mark

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

 
Truth does not change

By The Rev. Art Zacher | From Page: C3, 15 Comments

Horoscopes: March 29, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B8

 
Daughter choses stepdad over father to walk her down the aisle

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B8

.

Entertainment

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Second Julie Andrews memoir expected in 2017

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Chrissie Hynde memoir coming in September

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

.

Sports

 
Warriors beat Bucks 108-95, clinch top seed in West

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Wisconsin heads to Final Four after 85-78 win over Arizona

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Burns scores winner in SO to lift Sharks past Flyers, 3-2

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Jenest pitches SCC baseball team to shutout of Contra Costa

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

AP sources: Texas fires coach Barnes after 17 years

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Kazmir, Quintana both strong; A’s beat White Sox 10-4

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Zunino homers twice, but Giants rally to edge Mariners 9-8

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Gordon, Earnhardt among the winners and fans of Martinsville

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Prince Bishop wins Dubai World Cup, California Chrome 2nd

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Serena Williams easily wins opening match at Miami Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Power leads Penske sweep in qualifying for IndyCar opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Revolution win first of season, beating Earthquakes 2-1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Jimmy Walker leads hometown Texas Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
.

Business

A glance at women in leadership roles in business worldwide

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
For business, more women in charge means bigger profits

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

US drillers scrambling to thwart OPEC threat

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
Test trial to use computer servers to heat homes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

.

Obituaries

Betty Mason

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Tiffany Lyn (Helzer) Kemp

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Richard F. Coleman

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
James Lee Lewis

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Helen Kalis

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Carol A. Vose

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics