The San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC) intends to prepare an environmental impact report (EIR), consistent with requirements under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The purpose of the EIR is to evaluate the environmental issues associated with the proposed improvements included in the Altamont Commuter Express (ACE) Ceres–Merced Extension Project. The SJRRC will serve as the lead agency under CEQA for the EIR.
The Project, for which this NOP is being released, is Phase II of the Project that was analyzed in the ACE Extension Lathrop to Ceres/Merced EIR. The new EIR that is being prepared by the SJRRC will analyze the potential environmental impacts from expanding ACE service between Ceres and Merced at a project-level detail. This new project-level EIR is tiered from the programmatic analysis in the prior EIR and, thus, where appropriate, the new EIR will incorporate analysis from the prior analysis.
The Project would consist of the following proposed elements:
• A Ceres to Merced Extension Alignment consisting of upgrades and new tracks and bridges within the UPRR Fresno Subdivision between Ceres and Merced;
• New Turlock, Livingston or Atwater, and Merced Stations along the extension alignment; and
• A new permanent Merced Layover & Maintenance Facility to support extension operations.
The purpose of the Notice of Preparation (NOP) is to notify agencies, organizations, and individuals that SJRRC plans to prepare the EIR and to request input on the scope of the environmental analysis to be performed. The NOP provides a more detailed description of the Project and can be viewed online at https://acerail.com/merced-extension-eir
Virtual Scoping Meetings
In accordance with current social distancing guidance related to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), all scoping meetings for the ACE Ceres–Merced Extension Project will take place online as webinars. Virtual scoping meetings will take place at the following dates and times:
- Virtual Scoping Meeting #1 (Webinar) - June 25, 2020 (3:00 P.M. - 4:30 P.M.)
- Virtual Scoping Meeting #2 (Webinar) - June 25, 2020 (6:30 P.M. - 8:00 P.M.)
- Virtual Scoping Meeting #3 (Webinar) - June 30, 2020 (6:30 P.M. - 8:00 P.M.)
The link to join each virtual open house will be made available on the Project webpage prior to the webinars. Visit the Project webpage at https://acerail.com/merced-extension-eir to sign up to receive email reminders for these webinars. Virtual scoping meetings will begin with a live presentation providing an overview of the Project and the CEQA process, followed by a question and answer session based on questions submitted online from attendees. All three virtual scoping meetings will be identical in format and content.
SJRRC is seeking comments from agencies, stakeholders, and the public regarding the scope of the environmental topics that will be analyzed in the EIR. Written responses and comments on the scope of the ACE Ceres-Merced Extension Project will be accepted until 5:00 PM on Tuesday, July 7, 2020.
Please send comments to:
Mail: San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission
Attn: ACE Ceres–Merced Extension Project
949 East Channel Street
Stockton, CA 95202
Please include the “ACE Ceres-Merced Extension Project” in the subject heading.