Back-Seat Driver

Elk Grove considers express bus connections to light rail

A Regional Transit light-rail line extension is underway Cosumnes River College. Elk Grove may halt its bus service to downtown Sacramento and run to light-rail stations instead.
A Regional Transit light-rail line extension is underway Cosumnes River College. Elk Grove may halt its bus service to downtown Sacramento and run to light-rail stations instead. Sacramento Bee file

Will Elk Grove eliminate its commuter buses to downtown Sacramento when the light-rail extension to Cosumnes River College opens this September?

Elk Grove city officials, who run a platoon of city e-tran buses up Highway 99 and Interstate 5 daily, said this week they are considering doing so. In place of those buses, the city would run express buses to the new light-rail stations at the college and at Franklin Boulevard.

The announcement this week prompted some complaints. In a letter to the city, e-tran rider Kim Olsen said she doesn’t want to ride light rail, citing concerns about security and cleanliness. “Not only will it be a major inconvenience ... but it will also diminish the security and comfort that we (all of the downtown commuters) currently experience on the e-tran commuter buses.”

The proposed changes are far from set in stone, said Jean Foletta, the city’s transit manager. The city will hold public meetings on March 12 and March 26, at 6 p.m. in City Hall council chambers. The city also will be taking public comment via email at transit@elkgrovecity.org until the first week of April.

Foletta said she has heard some concerns from riders about light rail, but doesn’t know how widespread those feelings are. “What we’ll do is gather public comment and look at what the public has to say,” she said.

Foletta said city staff will issue a report and recommendations to the City Council in May, and likely will ask the council to decide.

Sacramento river bridges

Sacramento and West Sacramento will hit new milestones this spring in their efforts to build two bridges over the Sacramento River, launching technical studies of two likely bridge sites north and south of downtown.

The city of Sacramento is taking the lead on planning for a bridge at the north end of downtown to replace the aged and undersized I Street Bridge. The new bridge will connect C Street on the west bank with the new, but not yet open, Railyards Boulevard in Sacramento’s downtown railyard. The city is beginning an environmental and technical analysis of the bridge, a necessary step toward receiving a federal promise to fund much of the estimated $100 million cost. It has set a tentative opening date of 2020 for the new span, although it is likely the bridge could be in use before that.

The I Street Bridge will not be torn down. It is owned by Union Pacific, which will continue to use it for trains. But the city will be able to knock down the two tall vehicle ramps that lead to its upper deck, one from I Street, the other from Jibboom Street. Removal of the ramps will open up a big chunk of waterfront space for development.

Meanwhile, the city of West Sacramento is taking the lead on plans for a bridge to the south that would connect the two cities between 15th Street in the Pioneer Bluffs area and the west end of Broadway in Sacramento.

The West Sacramento City Council this week approved a contract of up to $439,000 for a feasibility and technical study for what’s being called the Broadway Bridge. That study will look at, among other things, what kind of traffic the bridge would handle, the effects on nearby neighborhoods, and how to make the bridge compatible with a potential streetcar line.

Then there’s the question of how much such a bridge would cost.

“We know we have a workable project here, but it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty,” said West Sacramento Mayor Chris Cabaldon.

Call The Bee’s Tony Bizjak, (916) 321-1059.

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