Sacramento unveiled plans this week for a modern downtown transportation hub that would serve millions of train-, bus- and transit-using Northern Californians and act as a people-gathering spot between the capital city’s downtown and the redeveloping railyard.
The vision for the 17-acre, city-owned site, which includes the historic Sacramento Valley Station depot, focuses on a new passenger station and concourse above the Amtrak platforms, with plazas to the north and south. A regional and Northern California bus hub would be integrated into the station.
There is discussion of a high-rise hotel on site and city officials say they expect developers to step in with projects to fill in what is now largely empty land between the existing depot and the rail lines a few hundred feet north.
Costs have not been set for what likely will be hundreds of millions of dollars in public and private investments. The city this fall will update its planning guide for the area, based on the new concepts, allowing the city and local transportation entities to compete better for state and federal grants.
Civic leaders say the plans are based on the belief that the current COVID-19 crisis will be brought under control, and that, over the next 20 years, a modern, post-pandemic downtown will emerge with key parts of the growth happening at the train station site and at the adjacent infill project site known as “The Railyards.”
“It is all an evolution as funding allows and as transit builds ridership,” city project manager Greg Taylor said. “There are new paradigms in commuter travel that will come out of COVID.”
The plans call for knocking down or altering some of the elevated roadway ramps next to Interstate 5 at the southeast corner of the project site, allowing that area to connect better to Old Sacramento and the Sacramento River.
Early designs suggest it will have a similar sleek and high-tech feel of nearby Downtown Commons, but with a number of added recreational amenities that may include a community garden, skate park, dog park and other attractions near the river.
The project is expected to move forward in phases. Among the next steps:
▪ The city and private developers of The Railyards project just north of the transit center site plan to build a second entrance ramp into the existing train passenger tunnel under the platforms, connecting to the north, where planned development includes a Kaiser Permanente Medical Center (replacing the Kaiser Morse Avenue hospital), a Major League Soccer stadium, a major addition to the State Railroad Museum, and housing, offices and retail.
▪ Also as part of the next phase, the city is applying for grants to build what transportation officials say will be a regional bus hub on the south side of the train platforms.
▪ Sacramento Regional Transit, the county’s main bus and light rail operator, also is looking for funding to build a new light rail station closer to the entrance to the train platforms.
▪ The existing Sacramento Valley Station has undergone its own multimillion-dollar modernization and ultimately will no longer be used for ticketing because those transactions will be done electronically. The city plans it to be a multiuse facility and southern entrance to the transit center and railyard.