Jonah Freemark on The Transit Politic has detailed transit projects in Openings and Construction Starts Planned for 2015. For Sacramento, it will be the end of work on extension of the SacRT light rail Blue Line to Consumnes River College, and the start of planning for the Sacramento/West Sacramento streetcar. It is good that these projects are happening, but in comparison to many other urban areas, Sacramento is falling further behind. We spend most of our money on expanding the freeways, building new freeways such as the Southeast Connector, and upgrading arterial roadways. Almost all of this work furthers suburban commuting and sprawl, and very little if any of it leads to true economic vitality.
Projects I’d like to see joining the list for next year are:
- Green line extension to Natomas. Not necessarily the airport, and I’m not sure that pencils out as a beneficial project.
- Blue line extension to Elk Grove. Though I don’t like the suburban wasteland that is Elk Grove, it is nevertheless true that there are a huge number of commuters from there to downtown Sacramento, who could be pried out of their cars if we spent money on light rail instead of highway and roadway expansion. Just the interchanges on Interstate 5, largely purposed to serve the commuter crowd, cost more than the entire light rail system.
- Blue line extension to American River College, and eventually to Roseville. The college is a huge trip generator, and this part of the county is very underserved by transit. Though the Capitol Corridor third track will take some of some of the demand, light rail with its more frequent service would be a great complement.
- Bus rapid transit (BRT). I’m not sure where the best location would to pilot bus rapid transit in the Sacramento region, but the fact that we are not even really experimenting with it (other than the tiny Watt Ave over US 50 bridge) does not bode well. Bus rapid transit could be an even more important solution for the region, particularly because much of the region lacks the density to make light rail successful.
Here’s to seeing more Sacramento projects on the 2016 list.