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Freight trains return to Sonoma County | PressDemocrat.com | The Press Democrat | Santa Rosa, CA
Tuesday 30 Jun 2009, 06:51
Filed under: NCRA, Northwestern Pacific Railroad, Railroad, Sonoma

Freight trains return to Sonoma County | PressDemocrat.com | The Press Democrat | Santa Rosa, CA.

Rail fans waved and snapped photos as a work train rolled through Petaluma on Tuesday, marking the Northwestern Pacific Railroad’s return to Sonoma County after an eight-year hiatus.

Except the train has to go through Sonoma county, to get to Marin County, to get to Sonoma county.

NCRA Press release: Note Delay of operation to Dec 08 or Jan 09, per delay of Oct operation by 2 or 3 months.

PRESS RELEASE – Ukiah – June 30, 2009

North Coast Railroad Authority (NCRA) Chairman, Allan Hemphill, announced that today marks the first time a locomotive has rolled on the Northwestern Pacific (NWP) rail line from Petaluma to Windsor in over 10 years.

This morning, a locomotive pulling flat cars loaded with new railroad ties began distributing the ties along the line, which parallels US Highway 101 in Sonoma and Marin Counties, as part of the $39 million state-funded project to repair 62 miles of the historic railroad, from the interchange with the Union Pacific South of Napa (Lombard), to Windsor.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) stopped freight service on the NWP line in November 1998 for safety reasons. In 2006, the NCRA began making repairs with funds allocated by the California Transportation Commission (CTC) to address the FRA concerns. Work was delayed for almost all of 2008, while NCRA battled a lawsuit filed by the City of Novato, which was settled last November. Since that time, NCRA has completed over 90% of the repairs to the signals and bridges, and will be finished with the trackwork by the end of July, according to Hemphill.

Hemphill said the projected October start-up date will be delayed 2-3 months to address permit requirements for 3 bridges that require work in the water. “All of the bridge work and FRA certification of all of the required repairs will be complete by the end of the year, and you will see freight trains in operation between Lombard and Windsor by early next year,” he said.

Hemphill, a resident of Cloverdale said that “NCRA freight service will be the warm-up act for SMART.”

“We will acclimate North Coast residents to the rebirth of trains in this rail corridor and set the stage for SMART commuter service,” he said.

NCRA will also certify its Russian River Division Environmental Impact Report, which evaluates the impacts and benefits of freight trains between Willits and Lombard, prior to service start-up. Hemphill said that the NCRA anticipates adoption of the EIR by the end of the year.

“One rail car takes 4 trucks off of the highway. One gallon of diesel can move a ton of freight over 400 miles,”

“It’s about time we return to green goods movement on the North Coast,” said Hemphill.

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