County supervisors seeking federal funds to improve rail link to Los Angeles

Only a platform and open-air shelter mark this seldom used train stop near North Indian Canyon Drive and Interstate 10.

Riverside County Supervisors Karen Spiegel and Manuel Perez on Tuesday will ask their colleagues to support a request to the federal government to provide funding to complete environmental studies associated with a 144-mile commuter rail project linking the Coachella Valley to San Bernardino, Orange and Los Angeles counties. The route includes a stop in Palm Springs.

The initial environmental impact report on the Coachella Valley-San Gorgonio Pass Rail Corridor Project was completed earlier this year, and additional assessments are required to move the project forward, according to the supervisors.

Up to $60 million may be needed to complete impact studies on six proposed rail stations, as well as a third main track line and grade crossings along the eastern section of the project zone, encompassing roughly 76 miles, officials said.

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Spiegel and Perez are eyeing federal “Build Back Better” grant funds that are available via the U.S. Department of Commerce’s “regional challenge” awards system, according to documents posted to the Board of Supervisors’ policy agenda for Tuesday.

The Riverside County Transportation Agency is the project manager, working in collaboration with Caltrans and the Federal Railroad Administration, documents stated.

“The state of California and RCTC have a vested interest in fostering equitable investments in transportation infrastructure and transit mobility … and are committed to matching funds for this game-changing economic opportunity, with environmental benefit from Los Angeles to Coachella Valley and disadvantaged communities along the route,” according to the supervisors’ proposed funding request letter.

The commuter line would begin in Coachella, transit Indio and Palm Springs, coursing through the San Gorgonio Pass, with stops in Banning and Beaumont. It would veer northwest into Loma Linda, then southwest into Riverside and on to Fullerton, continuing north to the final stop at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles.

The full length of the ride would run just over three hours, according to RCTC. The agency estimated it could provide service for up to 160,000 commuters daily.

In addition to new tracks, existing rail lines would be utilized, officials said.  A prospective timeline for groundbreaking on the project has not been announced.

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