Modesto Chamber Meets with Congressman Jeff Denham to Discuss Local Rail Service
On Friday, July 26th Congressman Jeff Denham sat down with the Modesto Chamber of Commerce and other community representatives to discuss the potential of extending ACE Commuter Rail service to Modesto, and eventually Turlock. ACE spokesman Thomas Reeves fielded the many questions asked by the group.
Mr. Reeves explained that the project is on a four year timeline with expected completion in 2018. He also noted that initially ACE service would share lines with Union Pacific and would run on the existing track. Reeves stated that residents and riders would not be taxed solely to provide funding for the ACE extension and stated that passing a “self-help” tax is “imperative” to making ACE trains a reality in Modesto. Passing a “self-help” tax in Stanislaus County would create funding that could be leveraged in gaining additional state and local funding that would otherwise not be available to local projects.
Congressman Denham, who has made the commute on ACE in order to experience the process first-hand and speak with riders about their experiences, said that ACE “has a different feel” than other public transportation options, including Bay Area Rapid Transit or Amtrak, and described the ACE environment as more “like a living room setting.” The Congressman commented that he observed riders working and socializing with each other.
Congressman Denham chairs a House of Representatives railroad committee, and while he does not support the current proposal for high-speed rail (due mostly to cost concerns), he is a supporter of ACE and the positive effects he believes it will have on the communities within the Central Valley. It was noted at an ACE Scoping Meeting earlier in the week that all counties through which ACE currently provides service have passed a “self-help” transportation tax. Says the Congressman of passing such a tax: “There could be opportunities to grab federal dollars to spur an infusion of money to get things started.”