Capdiamont\’s Weblog


NWP, and Napa area railroad news

North Coast Railroad Authority has extended the comment period for the recirculated Draft EIR to 5:00 p.m. January 14, 2010.

Green Wheels:An Update on the Eureka-Arcata 101 Improvement Project

In the grand scheme of regional non-motorized connectivity between cities, the 101 is at the top of the list. If built, the 101 Eureka-Arcata Corridor Improvement Project has the potential to negatively impact trail development between Arcata and Eureka. Designing “improvements” for the 101 without certain accommodation for the Humboldt Bay Trail— a future portion of the California Coastal Trail (SB908)— could potentially hem us in. The proposed Humboldt Bay Trail will likely fall on either Caltrans right of way or the North Coast Railroad Authority (NCRA) right-of-way. So, any development along the 101 that increases the width of 101 could impact our ability to have a Rail-with-Trail. This leaves us with our other option, Rail-to-Trail, not only a harder sell among railroad stalwarts, but a cue to Caltrans that this issue cannot be talked about in isolation from the HBT.

The NCRA and Caltrans share another issue in common—sea level rise—which goes hand in hand with trail design as well. To protect the highway from rising sea levels, either the entire highway needs to be elevated, or the railroad prism needs to be enhanced to act as a levy. If Caltrans chooses to enhance the railroad prism as a levy, it makes fiscal sense to do it in a way that accommodates the proposed Class I multi-use trail on the levy. If they choose to raise the level of 101, either gradually as it undergoes maintenance, or as part of this project, Caltrans musti establish that a Class I multi-use trail is fully feasible outside the Caltrans right-of-way in the face of wetland constraints and sea level rise challenges to the trail, or must accommodate the trail within its right-of-way and protect it, along with the highway facility from sea level rise. This will require Caltrans to conduct design, engineering and permitting for the trail to fully establish its feasibility.

MIJ: Report: Alto Hill Tunnel reopening carries big price tag

The $225,000 study, paid for with federal funds, will be discussed at a meeting Wednesday in Mill Valley.

It estimates reopening the half-mile Alto Tunnel between the two communities would cost $48 million to $52 million, which would include adding a 10-foot-wide bike path and an 8-foot-wide pedestrian walkway.

SRPD: Public makes pitch for SMART train features

It’s their trains, and the public at a Wednesday night workshop made it clear what they would like the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit cars to look like.

An open letter from Wine Train to Sen. McCain

It worries me that no calls were made before we were held up to the entire American public — a small business in Northern California — as an enormous source of government waste.
If you had spoken with us, or even project officials, you might have asked: Why would the Napa Valley Wine Train need, or take,

$54 million in taxpayer money to move a small section of rail line 33 feet? The answer is: We didn’t!

So, who does? Napa County has an award-winning flood control project and design; one that was proposed, and approved by voters, many years ago. This is the project that is being funded. That design has impacted a lot of businesses. It has necessitated the movement of several rights-of-way, and at my last count four or five bridges (including the Wine Train’s). The goal of this project is to protect the city of Napa from continued flooding, period, not enhance specific companies.

SRPD: SMART gets $2.5 million for commute-rail work

The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit district has received $2.5 million in federal funds for preliminary engineering and environmental work on its planned commuter rail line.


SRPD: Builder, taxpayer groups protest SMART deal

Leaders of the North Coast Builders Exchange and the Sonoma County Taxpayers Association demanded Wednesday that SMART directors put a stop to negotiations between their Railroad Square project developer and a group representing labor and environmental interests.


UDJ: Possible sites for new courthouse discussed

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“It’s a classic win-win, because we would have enough property for freight and passenger service in the future, and the land could be used for an important public service,” Stogner said.

The site used to be a railroad maintenance yard, and the land was contaminated when the NCRA bought it from Pacific Union Railroad in 1996, according to Stogner. He said a study needs to be done to determine what the contamination is and how to go about cleaning up the site.

“They (Pacific Union) have until 2013,” Stogner said. “Whatever is done with the property, the cleanup responsibility will have to be assigned by the purchaser, or worked out with the responsible party, which is Union Pacific Railroad.”

The AOC expects to complete the new Ukiah courthouse by 2015, and planned $5.6 million for property acquisition.

Stogner said another hurdle to jump for locating at the depot site is that the NCRA needs permission to sell the land from Caltrans and the Federal Highway Administration, which contributed money for the purchase.

MIJ: Not all on board for high-density housing near rail stations

Last week the Metropolitan Transportation Commission handed out $1.8 million to cities to provide financial support “for planning processes that seek to increase transit ridership by maximizing the development potential around current or future transit stations and corridors.”

The MTC – which is pushing housing and retail around transit hubs to limit car trips – happily handed out the cash to every city that applied for the dollars in Marin and Sonoma. But in Marin only one of the three eligible cities stepped forward: San Rafael. Novato and Larkspur passed, each saying they were not quite ready to embrace the concept until they know more.

San Rafael received $140,000 to plan around a Civic Center Station, which will go in along the west side of Civic Center Drive, and another $388,000 for planning at its downtown station just north the transit center. The city will have to provide a 20 percent match.

NVR: Hidden history in Napa

Amid the grit and grease that is Wine Country Motors on Sixth Street, mechanics tromp over ribbons of steel embedded in the concrete floor.

These rails might seem as out of place as a mounted moose head, but they tell a story. Wine Country Motors occupies a building that accommodated a century of the city’s transportation history.
Wine Country Motors and half a dozen other contemporary businesses are housed within the shell of the enormous car barn of the old Vallejo, Benicia & Napa Valley Railroad.

Built in 1905, the car barn and repair shop remained after the electric railroad went belly-up in 1935. Today people visit the ghost of the old railroad to rent a car, buy smoking supplies, or get their vehicle smogged.

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