Capdiamont\’s Weblog

Three pro rail letters in today’s MIJ
Saturday 3 May 2008, 07:52
Filed under: Marin, NCRA, Railroad, SMART, trails

Prorail voices grow louder as fuel gets more expensive.

Why freight will help dairies

The issues surrounding the railroad in Novato continue to come up. I understand this is a controversial issue, but the most important thing is that the public is armed with factual information.

In an article in Sunday’s IJ regarding milk prices, Supervisor Judy Arnold said, “But someone has yet to explain to me the economics of bringing grain from the Central Valley to Novato on a rail that runs north and south. I don’t understand where the savings comes from.”

Here is the explanation.

First, the railroad tracks split at Highways 101 and 37 and head east. The grain will be coming from places such a Nebraska and Iowa.

Secondly, the economics are simple: trains are a much more efficient and economical way to transfer freight. A big truck can only bring about 25 tons per load while a train can bring thousands of tons at a time. Not only is this a cheaper way to bring feed here, it also will take a large number of trucks off the road, which will lessen traffic congestion and lower the amount of exhaust that pollutes our air. Novato prides itself on becoming greener; it makes sense to use the railroad to help achieve this.

Third, the economic benefits go well beyond savings for agriculture. Many goods will be transported by these trains. Jobs will be created in Novato as businesses recognize the value of the efficiencies rail freight will create. The tax base will increase and the city’ coffers will expand.

For those who would like more detail, and for Arnold’s review, the letter I sent to the Board of Supervisors on Dec. 10 is at

Freight and Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit will benefit from each other and work well together. There is no need to try to drive a wedge between two agencies – SMART and the North Coast Rail Authority – that can work together to achieve the mutual goal, which is the best use of the tracks.

Dominic Grossi, president,

Marin County Farm Bureau

Supervisors’ odd priorities

I am not surprised to learn the Marin Board of Supervisors did not include transportation improvement in its list of top five priorities. I am concerned about why.

How bicycle pathways get a higher priority than Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit and intra-county tram options being proposed or disaster preparedness is alarming.

Not to put biking down, but bike pathways seem to have secondary importance to our economy and impact on the ability of the average citizen to move about the county efficiently and dependably. Biking serves the business and transportation needs of so few people. Even with optimal infrastructure, would it substantially improve our transportation problems and gridlock such as occurred well past 9:15 a.m. Wednesday on Highway 101 in Novato? What about freight, people with disabilities, the infirm, seniors, those who live/work beyond reasonable biking boundaries/times, such as the city commuter? Would the best bike-lane infrastructure in the country affect the livelihood of the average citizen?

On the other hand, multi-modal rail will contribute tremendously to the local economy and transportation needs of Marin and Sonoma residents. It will support local farmers by reducing transportation costs of fodder and market products. Rail will reduce pollution, traffic, accidents, stimulate development of intra-city tram services and commerce along stops and provide an alternative for refuse disposal at the dump. SMART even includes construction of bikepaths along its route.

Year after year, the countywide survey shows transportation as our biggest problem.

Supervisors, reprioritize for a 21st century Marin.

Steven Pointer, Bel Marin Keys

Nice, another Novato resident wants SMART, the commuter train.

Sierra Club missed the boat

The Sierra Club has it all wrong.

Building a 900-car garage at the Larkspur Ferry Terminal will not encourage more people to drive. It will encourage more people to park at the terminal and take the ferry to San Francisco instead of driving all the way to the city, thus reducing the heavy traffic on Highway 101. Having a commuter train from Santa Rosa to the Larkspur ferry terminal also would reduce the commute traffic on Highway 101.

Harvey Sperry, Novato

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