Thursday, November 17, 2005

Capitol Corridor to Serve Proposed Fairfield-Vacaville Station

November 17, 2005
Capitol Corridor to Serve Proposed Fairfield-Vacaville Station
By Barry Eberling

FAIRFIELD - It's official: The Capitol Corridor will allow its passenger trains to serve a proposed Fairfield-Vacaville train stop near Peabody and Vanden roads.

The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Board on Wednesday granted permission. Fairfield has yet to build the stop, but it now knows for certain it will have the trains.

"Another one of those incremental, major steps," Fairfield Mayor-elect Harry Price said.

Fairfield is moving ahead with plans to have a parking lot, boarding platform and related projects ready by 2010. Plans include building a Peabody Road bridge over the train tracks.

The Capitols run passenger trains along a 170-mile long corridor, from Auburn to San Jose. It is the third-busiest Amtrak route in the nation, serving about 100,000 passengers monthly. Solano County has one stop, the Suisun-Fairfield station in Old Town, Suisun City.

Fairfield and Vacaville have looked at building a train stop since the mid-1990s. Fairfield is taking the lead on the project because the site is within Fairfield city limits. The city has $26 million for the project from such sources as regional bridge tolls.

A major breakthrough came recently when Union Pacific sent a letter agreeing with the design concepts for the stop. Union Pacific owns the train tracks and wants to make certain a stop doesn't interfere with its freight service. The Capitols wanted Union Pacific to accept the train stop idea before granting service.

Among other things, Fairfield told Union Pacific it will build an overcrossing at Peabody Road. Trains currently cross directly over the road, with crossing arms stopping vehicles.

The Peabody Road overcrossing is designed to improve safety at the tracks. City officials said it will also eliminate the Peabody Road traffic delays caused by passing trains. About 20,000 vehicles use this stretch of road daily, Fairfield Transportation Manager Kevin Daughton said.

Fairfield also plans to build a road leading from Cement Hill Road under the Peabody Road bridge to the train station. That will allow cars to get to the station without worsening congestion at the Peabody/Vanden/Cement Hills roads intersection.

About 400 to 500 riders should use the station daily when it opens in 2010, Daughton said. That could rise to 700 to 750 riders as Fairfield develops the area around the station, he said.

By comparison, the Suisun City station about five miles away serves about 350 passengers on an average weekday.

Suisun City Mayor and Capitol Corridor Joint Powers board member Jim Spering strongly supported opening a Fairfield-Vacaville stop. But he made one thing clear.

"We're certainly expecting the trains to continue to stop at Suisun City," Spering said.

Vacaville Mayor Len Augustine said the train stop can do more than provide a way for local residents to go to such places as the central Bay Area. The trains will also bring visitors to Solano County, he said.

Several Capitol Corridor Joint Powers board members praised the planning work that has gone into the Fairfield-Vacaville train station. That includes planning development within a half-mile radius. The idea is to build townhouses, apartments, homes and businesses that will generate passengers for the nearby train service.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646 Ext. 232 or at

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