Sacramento City Council Poised to Unnecessarily Destroy Historic Railroad
Prominent life-long Sacramentan, Gregg Lukenbill, first managing partner of the Sacramento Kings, builder of two Arco Arena’s and the Hyatt Regency Hotel alarmed at “reckless” City Staff proposal, calls on community to speak out
Sacramento, CA (MPG) - On Tuesday, March 26, the Sacramento City Council is poised to approve an environmental plan concerning the Del Rio Trail which, if adopted as currently proposed, would cause irrevocable permanent destruction of the historic Sacramento Southern Railway, the original “Delta Farm-To Sacramento Fork” Sacramento Delta agriculture pipeline responsible for much of the capital city’s unique global identity and rich agricultural heritage. Gregg Lukenbill, prominent life-long Sacramentan and historian, is calling on all Sacramentans and railroad enthusiasts alike to persuade the City Council to save the Sacramento Southern Railroad and preserve our cultural history.
“The Del Rio Trail bike and walking path can peacefully co-exist alongside the Sacramento Southern Railway without destroying the historical tracks, berms and other crossings,” says Lukenbill. “Any destruction of the rail crossings is unnecessary and would conflict with California State Parks long planned and previously approved cultural education train ride from Meadowview to the California Delta town of Hood. Sacramento is so much better than this—we can progress into the future and support alternative transportation systems while honoring and maintaining our historic and irreplaceable railroad infrastructure. Let’s not make the same mistake we made with the Alhambra Theater,” an historic landmark that was destroyed in favor of a supermarket.
The Sacramento City Planning department is recommending the destruction of 8 intersection rail crossings, a significant grade change, and trestle bridge in the Final Environmental Impact Report to be considered by the City Council on Tuesday at 5 pm with no recognition or mitigation that the train exists. This section of track must be left intact to complete the 50+ year documented vision celebrating the City of Sacramento’s historic role in creating the Sacramento Delta National Heritage Area and today’s farm to fork movement.
Railroad enthusiasts have already painstakingly restored nearly 4 miles of track, the last 3,000 feet in 2017-2018 headed southbound from Old Sacramento, by volunteering tens of thousands of hours and personal contributions of tens of millions of dollars in cash and rail vehicles in this half century-plus effort. The section of the Railroad corridor that the City proposes to unnecessarily damage been planned for three decades to periodically transit empty equipment from the California Parks Railroad Museum Maintenance Shops in Old Sacramento for federally required maintenance for the Delta/Farm to Fork historical education train to Meadowview Road. No passenger train is proposed through South Land Park. If the City Council approves the staff recommendation on Tuesday, the maintenance yard in Old Sacramento will be severed from the rest of the historic rail line planned by State Parks since the 1960’s into the Delta, undermining decades of planning and tens of millions of dollars of State Parks investment. The federal government has already evaluated and declared the entire Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the 24.5 Sacramento Southern Railroad Branch Line to Hood/Walnut Grove, and the adjoining town of Locke as national historic resources.
Lukenbill forever altered the course of Sacramento history when in 1985, against the wishes of the City Council, he relocated the Kansas City Kings to ARCO Arena in Sacramento County, then mostly just open farmland and fields. No one can deny that Sacramento was forever changed as a result, and the sleepy governmental hub finally found its home on the world’s stage with its professional basketball franchise. But Lukenbill knows that Sacramento deserved its place in the limelight well before Arco Arena. He truly believes Sacramento, as the City that won the West through the Gold Rush, Railroads, Folsom Power House and Delta agriculture, and similar forgotten Sacramento history, must be preserved and shared for future generations.
“We really are at a pivotal moment with this proposal,” says Lukenbill. This is purely a Sacramento quality of life decision. All we are asking to share a right of way that was acquired for this train that the City staff is hijacking for the sole benefit of one Council District.”
“Are we going to rob future generations the opportunity to learn about our delta heritage on the Sacramento Southern Railway for a few residents who bought their homes knowing the railroad was there? Or are we going to be truly “World-Class” and do what other world-class cities do—embrace and celebrate our legacy, preserving it for everyone to enjoy?”
Lukenbill hopes that people with similar quality of life concerns will attend the Sacramento City Council meeting on Tuesday, March 26th at 5 pm and speak in favor of preserving the historic Southern Sacramento Railroad as a functioning railway so that all those who have already donated their time, energy, and money to saving it didn’t do so in vain. There is adequate room for both the bike and walking path and the railroad, and the path can easily be aligned to ensure safe crossings of tracks where they intersect streets. Furthermore, contrary to assertions of some neighbors, no tourist trains are proposed to run through South Land Park, just occasional rolling stock and maintenance equipment.