PCCP West Park makes cut

STOCKTON -- The good news for PCCP West Park developer Gerry Kamilos is that his short-haul rail proposal is included in a preliminary staff list of top-prior-ity projects in the San Joaquin Valley for state trade corridor bond money.

The bad news is that there are a lot more projects proposed than there is money to fund them.

Kamilos is negotiating with Stanislaus County to build a 4,500-acre industrial and business park sur- rounding the county-owned Crows Landing Air Facility. The project is dependent on building a short-haul rail link to the Port of Oakland. That rail link, in turn, depends on West Park getting $26 million from the state's $2.1 billion trade corridor bond fund.

"We have too few dollars chasing too many needs," California Business, Transportation and Housing Secretary Dale Bonner said Monday at a hearing in Stockton.

The hearing was to gather thoughts on the proposed criteria for choosing which projects get funded and the timeline for making decisions. It was one of eight such hearings held around the state.

California Department of Transportation Director Will Kempton said Southern California interests have identified projects that would total $1.7 billion. Northern California requests total $839.8 million.

San Joaquin Council of Governments Executive Director Andrew Chesley identified five "hot list" projects for the San Joaquin Valley. They are:

  • An extension of the Highway 4 Crosstown Freeway to the Port of Stockton, with a bond fund request of $90 million
  • An Altamont Pass Rail Corridor-Central Valley Rail Freight Shuttle project in San Joaquin County, with a bond request of $75 million
  • The Crows Landing Air Facility short-haul rail project, with a bond request of $26 million
  • A similar short haul rail proposal in Shafter, with a bond request of $15 million
  • A project to double track the rail lines through the Tehachapi Pass, with a bond request of $42.5 million
  • Each of the projects will require a 50 percent match with local funding.

    Chesley said the West Park short-haul rail proposal teams with the Altamont Commuter Express operation to create "an interesting synergy of passenger rail and freight."

    San Joaquin Partnership president Mike Locke said San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties have become integral parts of the Bay Area. He cited the 11 component manufacturers in San Joaquin County feeding the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. plant in Fremont and the need to move parts quickly to that plant.

    An initial phase of a short-haul rail project would bring trains to the Port of Stockton, Locke said, with a second phase bringing trains south to Stanislaus County, "possibly Crows Land- ing."

    Chesley argued for significant trade corridor funding for the San Joaquin Valley. The valley historically has lagged behind the rest of the state in funding, Chesley said. The trade corridor money is an opportunity to make up for that, he said.

    "We aren't expecting an entitlement, but we do recognize the historic imbalance," Chesley said.

    The removal of truck traffic in the valley would help improve its poor air quality, he said.

    Several other projects were promoted by government representatives at the hearing. They included deepening channels at the ports of Stockton and Sacramento and improving Highway 152 as a major east-west corridor.

    D.J. Smith, a transportation consultant working with Kamilos, attended the hearing but did not speak.

    Applications for the bond money are due Nov. 26 to the California Transportation Com- mission under a proposed time- table, with a preliminary list of projects for funding due Dec. 12. A final list would be chosen by July, under the timetable.

    Bee staff writer Tim Moran can be reached at tmoran@modbee.com or 578-2349.

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