THE TRAIN STATION PROJECT
The Train Station Specific Plan targeting the Peabody / Cement Hill intersection on the east edge of Fairfield is poised to impact our community for years to come. In 2007, the project was supposed to cost $40 million; 7 years later the cost is up to over $81 million, and not one truckload of cement has been poured. One can assume that the price will continue to go up, as is the track record for all major government projects.
Here's a fun fact: the project does not even include a train *station*; rather a train *platform*. If we want a station, that is an entirely new project. Furthermore, with the new "station" being located so close to the Fairfield-Suisun train station, it is questionable whether both will be serviced by Amtrak. Finally, the target area was not even part of Fairfield City limits when the project was kicked off.
If I could travel back in time to 2007, I would never support this project, and would do everything possible to nullify it before it got off the ground. However, it is 2014, and a different approach is needed to minimize the long term costs to our community.
I could see the benefit in a bridge on Peabody over the railroad track, provided it is cost effective, but all the other aspects of the current project do not provide value for the majority of current Fairfield residents. Most Fairfield residents will not travel to the eastern edge of town to take the train; only people who have yet to move here *might* use the station. If we and our children are on the hook for so much money, it should at least provide value for current residents.
"If train stations bring economic vitality and renewed community spirit to a town, instead of building out in the middle of nowhere, let's redirect the investment to our existing train station area, and benefit our downtown area at the same time."
Our existing train station is quaint and full of charm, but it is underutilized. Passengers who take the train might glance over at Fairfield, and what is the first thing they see? A yard full of dumpsters; how does that make a great first impression? Additionally, our downtown area is underutilized, and there are always calls for a new study or a grand plan on how to make it better.
Assuming the grants and loans are locked in and transferable, I propose that we invest the millions of dollars in the area around our current Fairfield-Suisun train station. We still are investing in a train station project; Most infrastructure already exists, and with an underutilized downtown a few blocks away, many current residents and businesses could see benefit as new residents and visitors contribute to a revitalized section of our town.