Rail to Trail: We Support the Del Rio Trail

Source: Sacramento Bee

October 2020 Update:


June 2020 Update:


As most of you are aware, a project to convert the abandoned rail line that runs through our neighborhood into a multi-use bicycle/pedestrian trail was unanimously approved by the City Council in March of 2019 and is now funded and midway through design. The Del Rio Trail will run south from Sutterville Road through the Land Park, South Land Park, Freeport Manor, Z'Berg, Pocket and Meadowview neighborhoods for a total of 4.8 miles to near Meadowview Road. Unfortunately, a group of rail enthusiasts led by developer Greg Lukenbill filed a lawsuit last April to halt the project. Their ultimate goal is to convince State Parks to extend Old Sacramento's tourist excursion train further south through the Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, and retain the rails through the neighborhoods above to use as a rail service line.

The lawsuit was delayed because of Covid-19, but a hearing date has now been scheduled and this week the City of Sacramento filed its brief opposing their lawsuit. The City contends the trail opponents' goals are inconsistent not only with community needs but also with all existing land use plans, including State Parks existing general plan for Old Sacramento. The City clearly explains how it vetted the project with affected neighborhood associations and community stakeholders and modified the trail design to comply both with community needs and historic preservation of the tracks. More importantly, the City explains in some detail how its project development efforts complied fully with applicable environmental laws and regulations. Contending the lawsuit is simply without merit, the brief also points out some of the numerous factual errors and unsupported allegations in the trail opponent's opening brief, which was filed several months ago. The court hearing is scheduled for August 28; the opponents are permitted to file a second brief prior to the hearing. View a copy of the City's brief, and the rail group's opening brief, here:

TRAIL ALERT: Group led by wealthy developer sues our City to block the popular Del Rio Trail.

A group led by a wealthy developer who made part of his fortune developing Sacramento area farmland is now using California environmental laws to block an environmentally-friendly bike trail. Their goal? To run tourist trains through several quiet neighborhoods and through the pristine Stones Lakes National Wildlife Refuge.
Two of the plaintiffs sit on the Board of the California State Railroad Museum Foundation.
The train would be a revenue source for the multi-million dollar Foundation.
It is disheartening that this developer and his cohorts are using California environmental laws to push their environmentally intrusive fundraising train plan on the Sacramento region.
The flawed lawsuit can be read here:

TRAIL ALERT: City Issues Final EIR for the Del Rio Trail (Feb. 2019)

The EIR can be viewed on the City's web site:

March 26, 2019: Major victory for Sacramento regional air quality, community connectivity, and livability: the Sacramento City Council unanimously approved the Del Rio Trail EIR.

On March 4, 2019, SLPNA issued a detailed letter asking the City Council to approve the Del Rio Trail Project, and outlining the unreasonable demands of railroad advocates.

State and Federal Legislators Support the Trail Project and Oppose Reactivating the Old Rail Line. Read their letters here:

Please click below to view the template letter for signing and mailing to the City:

Breaking News (Nov 2018): City Releases Del Rio Trail Draft EIR!

Trail Alert: California Railroad Museum Foundation Reverses Position on the Del Rio Trail (May 18, 2018) The California State Railroad Museum Foundation appears to be reversing itself from its documented position of January 2018, and contrary to the State Parks EIR/General Plan. The Museum Foundation recently issued a letter to the City of Sacramento, suddenly changing its position on the retention of rail tracks from their stance earlier this year.

In January, the Foundation asked the City to work to retain some of the old tracks, and assured the City that this was in no way an attempt to run trains on the tracks. The City agreed to the request, and now plans to retain 98.2% of the abandoned tracks. But now, the Foundation wants the City to re-design the public trail to accommodate future State TOURIST TRAINS on this public trail corridor.

This new stance not only contradicts the Foundation's own January letter, but it also flies in the face of the directives of State Parks, which ordered the removal of the trains from the EIR and General Plan in 2014 after public hearings.

Read the detailed SLPNA comments regarding this reversal, which is contrary to the adopted EIR and General Plan:

SLPNA Supports Transparency

At our June 27, 2018 community meeting regarding the Del Rio Trail project, a train proponent distributed flyers asking why SLPNA does not post Railroad Museum Foundation letters on our web site. Please note that the Foundation does not post our letters on their web site. In contrast, SLPNA fully supports transparency, and we encourage you to read the three Railroad Museum Foundation Letters and the two SLPNA replies here (they are in date order):

TRAINS OR TRAIL: The choices at hand

(1) an expensive Government-run tourist train?

(2) a trail for the Sacramento community?

At the 2018 SLPNA Annual Meeting, the approximately 150 Members in attendance voted unanimously to oppose a new request by rail supporters to gain access to the abandoned rail corridor that runs through several neighborhoods. Such "Maintenance of Way" operations by rail crews would cut down oak trees, shrubbery, and foliage on the track bed area, and herbicides would be sprayed near the adjacent backyards, gardens, play areas, and pools, and near family pets.

Instead, SLPNA supports a historical walking and biking trail, and the community continues to firmly oppose expensive, intrusive, and environmentally toxic tourist train traffic along the trail. The train plan was firmly rejected after public hearings in 2014, but now some want to undo the will of the people. SLPNA was just one of many community voices in that process.

The "historical" question: Even though this defunct agriculture rail line was not part of the gold rush history of Old Sacramento, was never a part of the transcontinental railroad, and only operated briefly in the 20th century, we still recognize the role of railroads in local history. Although the 1989 and 2014 EIR's by CA State Parks found there to be no historical designation for this rail line, we have seen some evidence that it is listed in a historical registry. As such, we agree with the City's plan to retain 98% of the tracks. We oppose the RR Museum Foundation's demands that the trail be redesigned to accommodate trains. Moreover, we believe the best way to honor rail history is by making the trail a 4-mile long walkable tribute to rail history (with appropriate signage, markers, art, and educational components), rather than an intrusive maintenance line for an expensive tourist train. Keep in mind that this is not SLPNA's project, this is the City's project. We merely provide community input to our government leaders.

Consider the Two Choices:
Choice 1: Spend multiple millions of taxpayer dollars to reactivate a minor 20th century rail track, bringing in heavy locomotives, 110 decibel horn blasts, $3.2 million of new rail crossings, and tons of toxic emissions next to schools, parks, and homes, plus the removal of numerous valley oak trees.

Purpose: a state owned tourist attraction.

Choice 2: Using grant funds, build a community walking and biking trail to connect thousands of residents to city parks, schools, and businesses.

Purpose: a city operated active transportation corridor.

Bottom line: SLPNA supports biking and walking ("active transportation") on the corridor. We agree with the State Parks and Recreation Commission, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, the Sac City Council, and the Regional Transit Board, all of whom held public hearings, and unanimous public votes to reject trains and support the trail.

Supporters of the TRAIL: Congresswoman Matsui, Senator Pan, Assemblyman Cooper, entire Sac City Council, entire RT Board, UC Davis, WalkSacramento, Sierra Club Sacramento, SACOG, Land Park Community Association, South Land Park Neighborhood Association, Hollywood Park Neighborhood Association, Cabrillo Park Neighborhood Association, thousands of residents, several public schools, 83% of 2700 surveyed respondents, and dozens of school kids who wrote to SACOG about how they want a trail to get to school.

Supporters of neighborhood tourist TRAINS: Some Railroad Museum advocates

Estimated cost to build a community TRAIL: $13 million in state and federal grants

Estimated cost for a CA Railroad Museum TOURIST TRAIN (EIR, construction, mitigation, maintenance, train stations, 8 rail crossings, land acquisition, etc.): $50-$100 million (or more?)

State Parks Deferred Maintenance Backlog: $1.2 billion

Cost to build Railroad Technology Museum: $80 million

The facts posted above speak volumes to the wisdom of one choice over another. SIMPLY PUT: we can honor rail history without running tourist locomotives through neighborhoods. Sacramento residents will continue to use facts and logic as we move forward on this important community trail endeavor.

Explore this web page for more facts and information on the trail!

Cleanup Day on the Del Rio Trail

Thank you for joining neighbors, SLPNA, Councilman Jay Schenirer, Assembly Member Jim Cooper and other officials, for attending our first "Del Rio Trail Cleanup Day." The group picked up litter on the rail corridor along Freeport Blvd near CA Family Fitness.

Volunteers were given a free Del Rio Trail t-shirt, courtesy of Assembly Member Jim Cooper. The City of Sacramento provided the bags, gloves, etc. Councilman Schenirer provided the refreshments.

Del Rio Trail Committee

On January 4, 2017 the Del Rio Trail committee convened and organized. The committee selected the following leadership team:
  • Chuck Hughes, Chair
  • Dan Weitzman, Vice Chair
  • Mark Rossow, Communications Director
The committee will be meeting throughout 2017. Please email slpna@slpna.org for more information.


June 27, 2018
Del Rio Trail Community Meeting
(SLPNA, City, Dokken, Park Ranger Dept, Asm Cooper staff)
Alice Birney school
7 pm-8 pm

December 6, 2018
City of Sacramento Trail Team
Public Information Meeting: Draft EIR
6 pm-8 pm
Pony Express School

Planning for the Del Rio Trail
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Pony Express Elementary School
1250 56th Avenue
5 pm-7 pm
Hosted by the City of Sacramento's contracted project team

Thursday, June 8, 2017
Pony Express Elementary School
1250 56th Avenue
5 pm-7 pm
Hosted by the City of Sacramento

August 17, 2017
Del Rio Trail Office Hours Meeting
5-7 P.M.
New Technology High School Library
1400 Dickson St., Sacramento
Hosted by the City of Sacramento
[Download Meeting Flyer]

December 11, 2017
Regional Transit Board Meeting
(Informational Meeting and Community Input on Del Rio Trail and Property Transfer)
5:30 pm
RT Auditorium
1400 29th Street, Sacramento

February 26, 2018
Regional Transit Board Meeting
5:30 pm
RT Auditorium
1400 29th Street, Sacramento

SLPNA is strongly supporting the Del Rio Trail project. This 4.5 mile long stretch of abandoned rail line runs through the heart of South Land Park, from the Zoo to roughly Pocket Rd. at Freeport Blvd.

In 2014, State Parks had planned to approve a plan to run tourist trains on this neighborhood greenbelt. Our association, residents, schools, and businesses were highly concerned and voiced significant opposition. After the train plan was shelved by the state, SLPNA formed a Trail and Greenbelt Committee. The TAG Committee operated in 2014 and 2015, and worked closely with the City as it worked on a grant proposal to build a trail on the corridor. The application was successful, and in late 2015, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments awarded $2.2 million to get the project shovel ready.

In May 2016, the Sacramento City Council unanimously authorized preliminary work on the trail, and included a transfer of abandoned FAA land for a community garden that would be part of the trail. As we enter a new phase in the trail project, SLPNA is developing plans on how to engage with the community in 2016 and 2017 so that we continue to have a voice. In July 2016, the SLPNA Board created the Del Rio Trail Committee to spearhead community efforts to build a safe, beautiful, neighborhood-friendly trail in South Land Park.

Abandoned since the 1970s, the old agricultural rail spur transformed over the years. It is now a neighborhood greenbelt, a dog walking area, and a quiet place to explore nature. Many people jog and bike on flat areas of the corridor. Other sections have become littered brownfields and are overgrown in some areas. Our hope is the trail will be a beautiful, safe amenity that all residents can enjoy. Moreover, it will address pedestrian and bicycle safety issues in the area. Many school children have expressed their desire to use this trail to travel to several schools along the corridor. Registered supporters include: Congresswoman Doris Matsui; UC Davis; Sierra Club (Sac); WalkSacramento: South Land Park Neighborhood Association; Cabrillo Park Neighborhood Association; Land Park Community Association; and many more. Neighborhood surveys show 83% support from residents, businesses, and schools.

You may send letters of support for the Del Rio Trail. The letters will be included in the City's future grant funding applications for the Trail. The letter need only indicate your support for the Del Rio Trail, and benefits of having a trail like biking; walking; hiking; alternative transportation mode; non-motorized transportation access to grocery stores, banks and other business; and safe route for southwest Sacramento to Downtown.


An Environmental Impact Report is underway, and the City needs to hear from you now. Please send comments expressing SUPPORT for the trail project and OPPOSING any changes to the trail plan for the purposes of accommodating future train traffic. (The primary concerns with train traffic are: damage to home foundations due to ground vibration; wheel, brake and engine noise; clearcutting of valley oaks along the corridor; heavy smoke from engines; 110 decibel horn blasts; bell noise from crossing arms at 8 streets; traffic impacts at 7 street crossings; spraying of toxic herbicides on the track bed area near homes and gardens; and substantial negative impacts to the community characteristics)

Email your comments to the City staff at:

Be sure to include your name and address.

You may also mail comments to:
Tom Buford, Environmental Planning Services
City of Sacramento
Community Development Department
300 Richards Boulevard, 3rd Floor
Sacramento, CA 95811


The Trail and Greenbelt Committee operated in 2014 and 2015. It helped gauge community interest in the trail and assisted the City in obtaining initial grant funding. With its mission accomplished, it was formally disbanded in 2016.


DEL RIO TRAIL COMMITTEE is the new group created by unanimous vote of the SLPNA Board in July 2016. Stay tuned to this page for other trail news and updates.


Copyright © 2016 SLPNA. Site designed & maintained by Salus-U, Inc. All Rights Reserved.