The San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission plan mentioned in "County supervisors: No cash for trains" (Aug. 23, Page B-2) cites hundreds of millions in costs for bridges and rights of way, and congestion on existing rails, as reasons why an Altamont Commuter Express connection can't come to Modesto, but they've ignored a low-cost alternative.
Most longtime Modestans remember the old Tidewater-Southern Pacific rail line that bisected Ninth Street and crossed Modesto a few blocks west of McHenry Avenue. This rail line still exists, stretching from the Southern Pacific-ACE line at French Camp, through Escalon, and terminating at Pelandale Avenue. Connecting Modesto to the ACE line simply requires a few repairs and upgrades to the long-neglected track, a pair of new stations for each end, and a couple of short-haul commuter cars to move people between them. We're still talking about a substantial cash investment, but the overall costs would be a fraction of those required to run new lines and build new bridges.