Capdiamont\’s Weblog


Judy Arnold: SMART urged to kill freight.
Wednesday 26 Mar 2008, 07:08
Filed under: NCRA, Railroad, SMART | Tags: , ,

Marin County supervisor Judy Arnold shows her true colors. She will only support SMART if it helps to KILL freight/NCRA. All gloves are off now.

MIJ: Judy Arnold: SMART urged to fight freight
Staff Report
Article Launched: 03/26/2008 12:03:53 AM PDT

Judy Arnold

THE REVISED cumulative impacts report by Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit has some new facts that are critically important to the northern part of Novato and all of Sonoma County.

It strikes me after reading the report that freight is preventing SMART from providing superior passenger rail service for Marin and Sonoma.

The most important point is that if SMART wants to run the light Diesel Multiple Units that it proposes for passenger service, it must obtain a Federal Rail Authority waiver. It would also be subject to California Public Utilities Commission approval.

A federal waiver is required because SMART is running on the same track as freight service (up to 32 trains a week).

Waivers historically have been granted “only under the condition of time separation, which limits freight operations to hours during which passenger trains are not in operation, precluding passenger-freight meets.” A “meet” is when two trains running in opposite directions move by each other, with one on a siding.

The report goes on to state that the Federal Rail Authority would likely only consider a waiver with the application of time separation or a new technology known as positive train control.

A PTC system is a computer-based information and braking control system using a Global Positioning System. This is especially important on single-track systems like that proposed for Novato. However, the Federal Rail Authority has not yet authorized the use of positive train control systems.

If SMART wants to use light DMUs it must either:

- Obtain a federal waiver to run light DMUs with strict time separation, which would likely mean the elimination of a midday train allowing time for midday freight service between the SMART morning and evening peak periods.

- Or hope the Federal Rail Authority will authorize the use of positive train control, which hasn’t happened yet.

Residents now are faced with heavy diesel freight trains, some as long as 60 cars, with loud horns running through their neighborhoods into the night. Many residents have grave concerns about the impact of freight.

In the last SMART election, 56 percent of Novato voters supported the passenger rail system because of the ever-increasing traffic congestion on Highway 101. I hear from more and more Novatans who can’t get in and out of town. Business owners tell me their customers can’t get to them easily. The impact on the environment from cars idling in freeway traffic jams also is of great concern.

Because of these facts, I have decided that I will support SMART, but only if the SMART board takes a public stand against the resumption of freight service. I am not willing to turn my back on Novato residents north of Highway 37.

If we did not have to accommodate freight, which already has failed repeatedly under past operators, SMART could run light diesel units, which are environmentally superior and quieter.

It is possible to stop the North Coast Rail Authority and its operator, NWP. We elect the policy makers who grant the rail authority its funding, such as our North Bay state legislators and federal congressional representatives. We can tell them we don’t want our public dollars to subsidize a private company. If the state and federal money dries up, the NCRA can’t survive.

I call on the SMART board to join with me in this effort and end the strained “arranged marriage” it has with the North Coast Rail Authority.

If this happens, I ask Novato to join me in embracing the SMART ballot measure in November with a light diesel system that will add another mode of travel in the Highway 101 corridor of Marin and Sonoma.

And in two years (after a demonstration project is up and running), we can supplement the light rail system with the addition of personalized rapid transit and really put a dent in our oil dependence.

Judy Arnold represents the Novato area on the Marin Board of Supervisors.

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8 Comments

It’s pretty amazing to watch a politician commit political suicide! Apparently, Judy just doesn’t understand that the tail isn’t wagging the dog. Maybe somebody should tell her about the federal railroad authority. Technically, SMART may presently own a bit of the NWPRR right of way, and NCRA may have an easement over it, but SMART’s chances of blocking freight over that section is nil. All they do is raise the cost of the entire enterprise with delays and BS.

Comment by Bob Cleek

…and so we now have seen her true colors. What Ms. Arnold and company fail to mention is that
the state highway system, and the California state water project, amongst other behemoths are also
projects that dig into those oh-so-precious tax dollars to subsidize private individuals/companies
(Ghilotti Construction for the local 101 expansion, corporate farms for the water project). The figures
given in the report are the absolute maximum, not the beginning traffic level.

As for time separation, the use of light DMU’s is not an official decision yet. This has merely been
studied in greater detail in the new report – with the *possibility* of continuing pending approval.
Freight did in fact operate cooperatively with passenger service on the NWP corridor throughout much
of the early 20th century – so it *can* be done.

On the subject of Personal Rapid Transit – once again a pipe dream. The nice thing about SMART is that
it aims to encourage walkable communities, a dedicated bicycle corridor, and community outreach. I have
yet to see a PRT system that not only works, but also aims to provide such services/ammenities. Of course,
it’s Novato’s own project, so if *they* want it, *they* can build it.

We have the corridor, an operator ready to take on freight service, and a majority of the population of
two counties supporting passenger service – the train’s coming.

Comment by JM

It kills me to hear false statements by people who claim to know what they are talking about.
“Residents now are faced with heavy diesel freight trains, some as long as 60 cars, with loud horns running through their neighborhoods into the night. Many residents have grave concerns about the impact of freight” NCRA is having to make “quiet zones” so residents won’t have to hear the click of the wheels between rail connectors and they are installing crossing signals so they don’t have to blow their horns when crossing the road. People like Judy Arnold and others who oppose NCRA play on people not knowing the whole situation and lie to people to get them to see it their way.

Comment by Joshua Woods

“Quiet zones” have nothing to with the click of the wheels.

The click of the wheels is when they hit a joint. The joints are spaced every thirty-nine feet with old rail. The reason behind the thirty nine foot length, is that fit easily on the old railroad cars. Every joint is a maintenance headache, with having to keep the bolts holding the jointers tight. I vagly recall that the rail can more easily fracture at the bolt holes. Don’t hold me to that one though. So in the interest of keeping a smoothing running railroad, you want to eliminate as many joints as possible. So what they have come up with is continuously welded rail(CWR), up to one quarter of a mile long. This also gives a smoother ride for trains, and any passenger trains.

Story and photos of redoing the Alaska Railroad with CWR

moving welded rail

wikipedia on rail tracks

Quiet zones are crossing that safety devices have been upgraded so the locomotive’s horn doesn’t have to blow.

NCRA is upgrading their crossing signals to come in to compliance with current standards. This doesn’t mean they have to upgrade them to the level of qualifying to be quiet zones, that I know of.

Personally they shouldn’t have to. You have to take things step by step. Get it running first.

Comment by capdiamont

also a look at a Atlanta plant for cwr

Comment by capdiamont

[...] Royal Dutch Shell Plc.com wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptWaivers historically have been granted “only under the condition of time separation, which limits freight operations to hours during which passenger trains are not in operation, precluding passenger-freight meets. … [...]

Pingback by Judy Arnold: SMART urged to kill freight. | Freight News

Typical BS from pro-rail ostriches. What has happened to the view that there would be no freight without the corporate welfare emanating from Sacramento? They simply can’t survive without drinking from the public trough…forever.

There is no public benefit to freight in this region to justify a public subsidy. This has been, is, and will be about gravel mining in the Eel River. Subsidizing freight so Bosco and friends can make money, leaving the rest of us with the environmental waste products is outrageous.

Come May 6th, NCRA will be out of money and out-of-luck. They’ll go right to Sacramento for more money for the bailout. We’ll see if they succeed. Looks like anything the legislature passes now will be vetoed by the governor.

It really makes me wonder. In this day and age, why are so many of you willing to suck up to monied interests? Bosco, Williams, and Berg are not your friends. And they will bring down SMART too. Come Nov’08, the public will realize NCRA and SMART are connected at the hip.

The row of way should be put to highest and best use which is a public hiking and biking trail through the Eel River Canyon. Now that’s a plan worthy of public subsidy.

Comment by Tired of the bull

[...] Filed under: NCRA, Railroad Arnold is a lier, she did a guest opinion in that she said, “I have decided that I will support SMART, but only if the SMART board takes a public stand against t… I am not willing to turn my back on Novato residents north of Highway [...]

Pingback by ER: Novato suit against NCRA moves forward « Capdiamont’s Weblog




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