Tony Bizjak

Back-seat Driver: Matsui wants planned railyard arena to be in sync with transit center

Published: Friday, Mar. 9, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013 - 8:24 pm

If Sacramento wants to build a 700,000-square-foot arena downtown, that's fine, but they better leave room to build a transit center next door.

That's the unusually terse message delivered Thursday by Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, whose local office in the towering federal building looks directly down on the railyard site.

Matsui said in a press statement she's pleased the city is moving forward with arena plans. But it's clear the message is a verbal finger wag to the city:

"It is imperative that an arena located behind the historic depot is well-designed and can coexist with both the planned intermodal transportation center, and future railyards redevelopment," she wrote.

"The (transit) center cannot get lost in the shuffle."

Transit proponents were concerned last week when a conceptual drawing of an arena on the city site showed the planned transit center looking small and seemingly pushed to the side.

Also, a light-rail station was drawn on the opposite side of the arena from the Amtrak and Capitol Corridor train platforms instead of somewhere that would allow a quick connection for commuters who use both trains and light rail.

Officials said the drawing merely offers a sense of what an arena might look like. They don't know yet exactly where the arena would go.

But, they say, they fully intend to integrate the transit center and arena in a way that makes sense.

One thing is for sure: They don't want to upset Matsui. The congresswoman is Sacramento's point person for nailing down what could be tens of millions of federal dollars to build the infrastructure to make the arena and transit center a reality.

Placer officials irked

Placer County Supervisor Kirk Uhler says government regulations are slowing efforts to reduce congestion on a key ramp connection between Interstate 80 and Highway 65.

Every day, the two-lane ramp from I-80 eastbound to 65 gets clogged.

Uhler and others at the Placer County Transportation Planning Agency believe there is just enough room on the ramp to paint in striping for a third lane.

It would be only a temporary fix, Uhler said, until the Placer agency can come up with the many millions it will take for a planned redo of the entire interchange.

But the vetting process, including environmental reviews, for the restriping could take 18 months and cost up to $350,000.

"Absurd," Uhler said.

"I'd go to Home Depot and buy the paint, cone it off and do it myself, if that'd help."

His agency's representatives are talking with the state Department of Transportation about whether something can be worked out to move the process faster.

If not, commuters won't be moving any faster soon.

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