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Rail expansion projects present historic opportunities for Valley businesses | Business

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Rail expansion projects present historic opportunities for Valley businesses
Rail expansion projects present historic opportunities for Valley businesses

Over the next two decades rail improvements and construction are going to present one of the largest opportunities for area businesses.

Nearly $2 billion of rail construction and improvements are coming in the next year alone. Nearly $300 million of that spending is earmarked for small and disadvantaged businesses.

"Stockton is going to be central to regional rail," said Mike Ammann, president and CEO of the San Joaquin Partnership, a non-profit, private-public economic development corporation that helps businesses locate in San Joaquin County.    

"When you look at everything that is going on over the next few years, we are going to be central to tens of billions of dollars in rail improvements."

Those improvements include an effort to electrify Cal Train in the South Bay, expanded commuter rail service through the Altamont Commuter Express (ACE) and the High Speed Rail Project (HSR).

The closest of those projects in San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties is the ACE expansion, the commuter train service, which takes thousands of commuters into the Bay Area each week.

"We are looking at adding two more trains," said Stacey Mortensen, executive director of the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission.

As it stands now, the plan is to extend service into downtown Modesto by 2018 and add Merced to the line by 2022.

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