Train advocates file lawsuit to halt new bike trail through south Sacramento

A group of train advocates has filed a lawsuit against the city of Sacramento seeking to halt its plan to remove sections of old train tracks in south Sacramento to make way for a recreational trail.

The City Council in March approved the Del Rio Trail, a 4.5-mile bike and walking trail that will run from just north of Sutterville Road to just south of Meadowview Road.

Neighborhood associations applauded the plan, but train advocates said removing parts of the track will kill the possibility of adding an excursion train through south Sacramento in the future, which state officials have discussed in the past.

“The loss of tracks on this transportation corridor would sever the ties to important regional, national and global history, negatively affecting the heritage of the greater Sacramento and Delta region, far beyond the 4.8-mile limits of the Del Rio Trail,” the lawsuit reads.

The city and Caltrans declined comment on the lawsuit.

There is enough room in the area to accommodate both the tracks and the bike trail, the lawsuit said.

If the tracks were not removed from the intersections, though, bike tires would likely frequently get stuck in them, which would create a safety hazard, Councilman Jay Schenirer said at the meeting.

The lawsuit alleges the city violated the California Environmental Quality Act when the City Council approved the final environmental impact report in March. The report fails to disclose the significant impacts on cultural and historic resources, and fails to include adequate mitigation, the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit also alleges Caltrans violated a state law when it determined the project would not cause any significant adverse impacts to historic property.

The plaintiffs include the Sacramento Rail Preservation Group and five citizens, including Gregg Lukenbill, developer and former Sacramento Kings co-owner.

The lawsuit asks the court to issue a temporary stay that would prevent the city and Caltrans from proceeding with the project.

Construction on the trail is planned to start late next year. It could open in about two years.

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Theresa Clift covers Sacramento City Hall. Before joining The Bee in 2018, she worked as a local government reporter for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Daily Press in Virginia and the Wausau Daily Herald in Wisconsin. She grew up in Michigan and graduated from Central Michigan University.