Capdiamont\’s Weblog

SR Editorial: Rail blockade
Saturday 1 Dec 2007, 01:45
Filed under: NCRA, Railroad


Marin supervisors join effort to slow down freight
Marin supervisors say they don’t want to take a stand against trains. But apparently they’re not above taking a stand in front of them — and joining Novato in a narrow-gauged attempt to halt the return of freight service to the North Bay.

Artistic Concrete

After a closed-door meeting Tuesday, Marin supervisors voted 4-0 to file a “friend of the court” brief in support of Novato’s lawsuit against the North Coast Railroad Authority (NCRA).

The NCRA is in the process of repairing the 62-mile stretch of rail from the Napa County border to Windsor, with hopes of resuming freight service by next summer. But Novato, apparently having forgotten that those rails through town were actually used for something at one time, is trying to block the work. The city contends that freight trains are noisy and create traffic problems and safety hazards.

Although the NCRA is in the process of completing a $2.4 million environmental analysis of the project, Novato — and now Marin County — wants more. It wants the NCRA to do a complete EIR on the entire 316-mile stretch of rail all the way to Eureka, a process that would cause unnecessary delays in restoring service and would be a waste of taxpayer funds.

Why? Because that stretch of rail is currently in disrepair and unusable, and there’s no plans to use the tracks anytime in the near future.

When the southern portion of the rail line reopens, the NCRA says it will operate three round trips a week with each train being about 15 cars long. But if the line opens all the way to Eureka it hopes — underline the word “hope” here — to have as many as three roundtrips per day of up to 60 cars each.

Novato’s primary interest is in getting “quiet zones” at the crossings through town, something everybody involved supports. The central question is whether the city and the county are more likely to achieve these by working with rail supporters and lobbying state and federal officials for the money — or suing the NCRA.

The bottom line is running freight on rails instead of on the highway is better for the region and better for the environment. And it sends a better message to the public than a course of action that requires three public agencies to spend precious taxpayer funds on a lawsuit that is likely to go nowhere.


1 Comment

Why? Because that stretch of rail is currently in disrepair and unusable, and there’s no plans to use the tracks anytime in the near future.
I wish the NCRA would admit that to us in Humboldt so we can railbank ans build the Eureka Arcata Humboldt Bay Trail. They might see more support from our neck of the woods and the Marinites would have less justification for the lawsuit.

Comment by Chris Rall

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