Lathrop Groundbreaking Ceremony Kicks Off Construction Phase for Valley Rail Program.

Last month representatives of the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC), the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority (SJJPA), and South San Joaquin Irrigation District (SSJID) officially broke ground on the Lathrop Wye Box Culvert (Box Culvert) project, marking the first major step in the construction phase of the Valley Rail program. Valley Rail is a transformative program that will enhance rail connectivity and service between the San Joaquin Valley, Sacramento, and the Bay Area, significantly improving regional mobility and sustainability for Valley travelers, visitors, and residents.

Pictures and video clippings from the groundbreaking are available the following links:

Transforming Regional Rail Connectivity: Lathrop Wye and Track Extension Project

Sited near the Manteca Unified School District office complex, the Box Culvert project is the first component of the two-part Lathrop Wye and Track Extension Project which will construct a concrete structural box culvert that provides a platform for the future track associated with the Lathrop Wye.  The second phase will construct the Lathrop Wye Track and will provide the necessary track infrastructure to allow direct ACE train service between Ceres/Merced and San Jose. The second phase is scheduled to begin construction in late 2025 or early 2026.

The 384-foot-long Box Culvert will function to allow the current irrigation drainage ditch to continue to provide irrigation for farms receiving water from the South San Joaquin Irrigation District (SSJID) and as storm drain conveyance for approximately 10,210 acres of land in south Manteca and several regional municipalities. The culvert will consist of a double-barrel reinforced cast-in-place concrete culverts and is needed to support the new wye connection tracks, which will curve over a portion of the SSJID canal. The box culvert is expected to be completed by early 2025.

The project demonstrates how the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission is working in partnership with agencies, districts, and cities along the corridor as it moves forward with the infrastructure improvements necessary to upgrade tracks, build stations, and create new connections.

Nancy Young, Tracy Mayor and SJRRC Chair, said: 

"This project is significant as it is the first step in delivering the infrastructure necessary to connect Stanislaus and Merced counties directly to the Tri-Valley and San Jose. The Valley Rail Program will significantly enhance regional mobility and sustainability, benefiting travelers, visitors, and residents of the San Joaquin Valley and California as a whole.” Mayor Young continued, “I want to say a special Thank You to the South San Joaquin Irrigation District. Your partnership is invaluable. It is incredibly important to the Valley Rail Program as well as all the communities that we serve.”

Vito Chiesa, Stanislaus County Supervisor and SJJPA Board Member, said: 

"The exciting part of this project today, specifically, is that it supports the expansion of ACE service down to Stanislaus County with stops in Modesto, Ceres, and Turlock," Chiesa continued. “This opens up all of Northern California for Stanislaus County residents to ride rail just about anywhere. Regarding air quality, we’re in an impacted basin in the San Joaquin Valley and programs like Valley Rail will be an important way to improve air quality for all of our residents.”

Stacey Mortensen, Executive Director (SJRRC), said:

"The Valley Rail Program is one of the most transformational things happening in the Valley for probably 100 years. Passenger service disappeared in the Valley for many years on this particular line. Valley Rail brings that passenger rail service back with a vengeance.” Regarding the Lathrop Wye Box Culvert Project, Mortensen said “Where we are right here [in Lathrop] is a connection in the Central Valley that has never existed. Trains today cannot come from the Modesto area and seamlessly travel over the Altamont Pass. They all have to either go north to Sacramento or they have to perform a long series of moves to travel toward the Tri-Valley and South Bay Area. This project, today, helps us make that connection so that trains can make a “through move” with passengers over to the Bay Area and Back.”

Forrest Killingsworth, Engineering Department Manager, South San Joaquin Irrigation District (SSJID), said:

“The significance of the project is to provide irrigation tail water and stormwater runoff capacity for the French Camp Outlet Canal, which is an SSJID tail water infrastructure canal. …What it will do is allow for the Lathrop Wye track construction to be constructed in an arched or a curved fashion over the top of the channel.”

Peter Rietkerk, General Manager (SSJID), said:

“The project is meant to serve as a foundational piece or initial piece for the larger Lathrop Wye Project, which is going to provide a huge benefit, especially in mobility, for our local residents, [and] people that visit the area and want to travel regionally.”

Mike Weststeyn, Board President (SSJID), said:

“It's great to be a part of this transformational project that's just getting started today. And, for [the] South San Joaquin Irrigation District, and as the President of the board, it's great to be involved in a project like this that's going to change our community.” 

Valley Rail: Enhancing Connectivity and Sustainability in Northern California

Valley Rail is a joint program that includes improvements and expansions of both ACE and Amtrak San Joaquins that is focused on improvements between Sacramento and the San Joaquin Valley. Valley Rail implements two new daily round-trips for the Amtrak San Joaquins service to better connect San Joaquin Valley travelers with the Sacramento Area, and extends Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) service between Sacramento and Merced. In addition, Valley Rail will convert the entire fleet including the thruway bus network to renewable diesel fuel, providing greenhouse gas (GHG) benefits across the entire existing (449 track miles) and proposed expanded (119 track miles) San Joaquins and ACE services.

The Valley Rail Program consists of several project segments that together improve rail service on ACE and the San Joaquins for the San Joaquin Valley, Sacramento, and the Bay Area. The project segments include: Lathrop to Ceres Extension, Sacramento Extension, Ceres-Merced Extension, Stockton Diamond Grade Separation, Madera Station Relocation, and the Oakley Station Project.

More information on the Valley Rail Program can be found at

About the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC)
Governed by a Board of Directors consisting of six full-voting members from San Joaquin County and two special-voting members from Alameda County, SJRRC owns, operates, and is the policy-making body for the Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) service, which has been transporting passengers between the Central Valley and Bay Area since 1998. For more information about SJRRC and ACE, visit or connect through Facebook (@AltamontCorridorExpress) and Twitter (@ACE_train).

About the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority (SJJPA)
 Since July 2015, SJJPA has been responsible for the management and administration of Amtrak San Joaquins. SJJPA is governed by Board Members representing each of the ten (10) Member Agencies along the 365-mile San Joaquins Corridor. For more information on SJJPA see

Amtrak San Joaquins is Amtrak’s 6th busiest route with 18 train stations throughout the Central Valley and Bay Area, providing a safe, comfortable and reliable way to travel throughout California. Amtrak San Joaquins is currently running six daily round-trips. In addition to the train service, Amtrak San Joaquins Thruway buses provide connecting service to 135 destinations in California and Nevada including Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Napa Valley, Las Vegas and Reno.