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(rshsdepot) Pajaro, CA

Monterey eyes options for Pajaro train station
Although the budget whistle is blowing in the state Capitol, Monterey County
is trying to keep its Pajaro train station project on track.

The county is proceeding with plans for a station in Pajaro as it tries to
lure Caltrain commuter rail service from Gilroy to Salinas, via Pajaro and

Within the next couple months the county plans public hearings on two
alternatives for a Pajaro Station, said Walt Allen, rail policy manager for
the Transportation Agency of Monterey County.

The station would be expected to draw northern Monterey County and southern
Santa Cruz County commuters to the little town that sits across the Pajaro
River from Watsonville.

Staffers with the county say they are proceeding with plans and keeping an
eye on the budget process. About $20 million was programmed into the state
budget during 2000 to get the effort moving.

That money isn't harmed, yet.

"It is in the line of sight," Allen said.

Preparation for a Pajaro station began in July 2001 with $2.4 million in
track work and road widening on Railroad Avenue, burying storm drains and
rebuilding two railroad spurs at the corner of Railroad and San Juan roads.

"It was an open drainage ditch before; now it's just gorgeous," said Nancy
Wright of the Monterey County Redevelopment Agency.

Now the county and Union Pacific are mulling where to put a station.

The county transportation agency is working with a consultant on whether to
renovate the existing station off Salinas Road or build around an existing
platform area off Lewis Road.

"It seems like Union Pacific is still in the process of seeing how they
would like to see the site configured," Wright said.

What Union Pacific desires will hold much clout, as the commuter rail would
need to garner right of way from the company to use its tracks.

The effort aims to make the Highway 101 commute easier for workers who
travel to Silicon Valley from areas south.

Though efforts have been ongoing for the past several years, Monterey County
officials say bringing the extended service to fruition is a couple years
away if everything goes well.

In a feasibility study, Monterey County estimated 550 people would board the
train in Salinas, 100 in Castroville and another 250 riders in Pajaro should
service begin.

Contact Brian Seals at bseals_@_santa-cruz.com.

The Railroad Station Historical Society maintains a database of existing
railroad structures at: http://www.rrshs.org