Capdiamont\’s Weblog

NWP railroad area news
Thursday 30 Apr 2009, 07:06
Filed under: Humboldt, Marin, Mendocino, NCRA, Northwestern Pacific Railroad, Novato, Railroad, SMART, Sonoma, THA

CLOSE TO HOME: Is freight service in Sonoma County’s future?

Gordon Lightfoot famously sang, “There was a time in this fair land when the railroad did not run,” and if California Deputy Attorney General Rose Fua has her way, freight trains may never run again on the Northwestern Pacific Railroad Line.

First of all, any contamination that may exist along that line came from Southern Pacific decades ago. The North Coast Railroad Authority has already spent $1.1 million for the surface cleanup of eight abandoned rail yards north of Willits, and almost $3 million is slated for that continuing effort.

Before the rail authority can spend that cleanup money, however, it needs the approval of three state agencies: the state Department of Fish and Game, the Department of Toxic Substances Control and the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, under the direction of, you guessed it, the attorney general’s office.

Environmental consultants agree that the best way to collect and clean up old railroad ties and debris along the line is with freight trains themselves. Trains are the most practical and environmentally efficient way to reach many of these areas, the very trains that the attorney general’s office is threatening to prohibit. If allowed to proceed, while this clean up is happening, the NCRA can work with all of the state agencies involved on the longer-term job of “characterizing” and remediating any underground contamination that might exist at the eight abandoned rail yards.

Novato’s decision on rail stations was the right one

THE NOVATO City Council made the right choice when it decided passenger train stations should be at Hamilton and near Fireman’s Fund.

The locations in southern and northern Novato provide access for commuters who work at the two growing job centers. They also provide locals with convenient locations where they can catch Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit trains to get to and from jobs south of the city.

Vintage train enthusiasts convene

Taken from a side creek of the Van Duzen River, locomotive No. 37 was moved three weeks ago to the Strasburg Railroad in Pennsylvania’s Amish country for restoration. The Timber Heritage Association is trying to raise $50,000 every year over the next 8 years to restore the No. 37. On Saturday, May 2, a fundraiser and dinner has been set for the Fortuna River Lodge Conference Center starting at 5 p.m.

Praise for SMART station locations

Due to my past obsessions, I would normally write a cynical or at least satirical comment on Novato’s political status quo, particularly with regard to rail issues affecting our community. But, alas, I am now compelled to be uncharacteristically complimentary because of the recent decision by the city council to formally designate our two SMART commuter rail station locations.

By locating our stations near Atherton/San Marin Boulevard on the north end of the city and Main Gate Road on the southern end, we will geographically unite most of our citizens in between. Many of us may have had good reasons for liking locations at Bel Marin Keys Boulevard next to the Humane Society or the historic old town rail station at Grant Avenue, but we elect leaders to make these difficult decisions, and today I am going to take cover behind them.

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