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Sacramento Valley Station gets new platforms, walkway Monday

Media toured the passenger tunnel on Thursday.

Train passengers who use the Sacramento Valley Station early Monday morning will be pioneers of a sort: They’ll be the first people to use a key piece of city transportation infrastructure that took years – and hundreds of millions of dollars – to build.

The “Pathway to Progress” – a 1.5 block-long walkway with a passenger tunnel leading from the Sacramento Valley Station to new rail platforms – will open Monday at 5 a.m. Initially, it will be a wide stretch of asphalt, but when construction is complete, it will be a covered path for rail passengers to get to the new platforms.

The $225 million railyards project included $41 million spent on moving the railway tracks about 500 feet north of their original position to improve rail operations and safety and to make room for future facilities for buses, trains and lightrail, according to a press release. Those changes necessitated the new platforms and passenger walkways, the release stated.

Illustration of new walkway at the railyards

Councilman Steve Cohn said the money the city had spent on the project so far was worth it.

"Yeah, it is a big number," Cohn said Thursday, "but what people need to understand is that we’re building a second downtown here, and it’s going to double the size of downtown. This will have tremendous economic development pluses for the city. It does require thinking long term though. If you’re only looking – will this pay off next year? No. This will take several years – maybe 10 to 20 – to fully pay off, but then it will pay off for decades to come."

Hinda Chandler, senior architect of the City of Sacramento, said that the biggest challenge for the rail relocation project was keeping it on budget while maintaining the quality of the design.

"I think we used good materials, classic materials, like brick and the plaster, " Chandler said. "Along the walkway we’re adding some landscaping to make it a pleasant, walkable space."

The area will continue to be a construction zone until the first phase of construction is completed in mid-October, according to the city, when a community event to celebrate the occasion will be held.

The track relocation is the first stage in a three-phase project at the downtown railyards. The project also includes improvements at the Sacramento Valley Station and a multi-mode transportation facility. The work is part of a larger development project in the 240-acre railyard site that will eventually include housing units, retail and commercial space, and a proposed entertainment and sports complex.

For more information on the walkway and the rail relocation project, see Melanie Turner’s article in the Sacramento Business Journal, "Rail project hits mile marker with passenger platforms, track relocation.”

Sacramento Press staff writer Melissa Corker contributed to this article.

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