Capdiamont\’s Weblog

The $400 million Eel River trail

Madrone estimates the trail would cost between $300 million and $400 million to build

That is a quote from the trail adviser, unlike Sims who used any person from the audience.

A railroad easement is there until the railroad is abandoned. It doesn’t matter if the line has been inactive for twenty-five years or more.

The railroad is not required to use creosoted wood. Other alternatives are concrete, steel, plastic, rubber, and other wood resistant to rot.

We rail advocates understand it will be a long hard path.

With  ever increasing fuel costs, there is a rising need for the railroad. The railroad can haul one ton of freight for an average of 426 miles on one gallon of fuel. A truck on the other hand hauls one ton of freight for about an average of 118 miles on one gallon of fuel. With rising tensions and population around the world, do we really want to be stuck with a less efficient transportation?

Security is of paramount importance, so ERTA promotes use of technology here. A “trail card” system with solar-powdered automated trail stations could be located at all of the approx. 15 main ERT access points from paved roads. The cards could have a proximity sensor function, so that if someone gets lost, we would know which section they last passed through. It is much easier to search 5 or10 miles than it is 162 miles. All trail users could be required to provide next of kin contacts and planned date of arrival at a given access point. There could be different types of trail cards, like single or multiple day-use as well as annual or lifetime passes, for locals or frequent users.

How many people do they really think is going to pay for trail use? Enough for $400 million in costs, not to mention maintenance costs? Does he really think anyone will use this security card, let alone MJ Growers? I’m sure DEA will not subpena the records.

BTW, NCRA said the rails, etc is theirs, and will be used for the rest of the system if this is railbanked. So if you are counting on $400 million from scrapping the relatively small amount, forget it. Also the scrap won’t even add up to what they need.



Did they ever do a mileage test on the trains that ran in the Eel River Valley? I would think the mileage would be a bit less. Still I would rather have the freight on the train being off loaded near Eureka than all those trucks on US 101.

The Richardson Grove project would not be needed.

With that said, I think the funding for a trail like this is about as likely as funding for a re-established railroad.

Comment by Tom Sebourn

How much would the railroad cost? 4 billion?

Comment by Anonymous

Nope, not even close. Last study released was $125 million. The latest study has yet to be fully done.

Comment by capdiamont

Only 125 million for the railroad, yet a trail would cost 400 million?

You live in dream land Cap. What a joke!

Comment by Anonymous

You have a reading comprehension problem. The $400 million for a trail is an estimate put out by the adviser to the trails people. $125 million is done by an actual study.

Comment by capdiamont

When was this “Actual” study done? 1997?

Talk about a waste of taxpayer funds

Hope you are concentrating on private sector funding, not public sector

Comment by Anonymous

Yes I did say 300-400 million for a trail because there is significant environmental cleanup, fish passage barriers, and significant erosion control work to do even if it is a trail. We cannot simply abandon the rail without expecting ongoing major environmental damage that will also affect private property. The billion dollar estimate for the rail includes bridging slides so that the rail could be reliable. The $125 million estimate does not include permits, or bridges and admits that the rail would still be subject to annual maintenance costs that are estimated to be as high as $1 million per mile. If the rail is not stable then shippers will simply plan for trucking as it is more reliable and then where is the revenue for the rail? Furthermore, private landowners with rail easements over their property are already claiming abandonment by the NCRA because of “lack of use for over 1 year” which is the reversion clause in these easements. Railbanking is the only practical solution to protecting the public’s interest in this right of way. It would allow for a trail now and if the RR every becomes feasible then bring back the rail. Those who would fight railbanking are risking the public’s investment in this critical linear right of way.

If the RR is so feasible, why are not the shippers (the timber industry and others) attending the NCRA board meetings to argrue for reopening. Clearly they are realists and recognize that the dream of a RR through the canyon is just that.

I welcome information that may better inform us all on this important matter. Please stick with the facts.

To answer some of the questions brought up I offer the following.Yes we should keep trains running where ever possible. When this rail line was abandoned the first time in the mid 1980’s I was the only Public Official in Humboldt County to fight abandonment because I believe in trains. Yes if the rail can come back then the trail has to give unless it is built rails with trails in the first place. All kinds of rail use are proposed for the Willits south line, but the Eel River Canyon is too expensive to rebuild a stable, functioning, and reliable rail. In fact if we do not rail bank this section and some others soon we will loose the option to ever run rail again due to reversion of rail easements over private land. So for those that want the rail back it is either come up with the hundreds and hundreds of millions for reopening and then millions to rebuild after big winter storms like now, or railbank it and protect the future option. Yes I said that it would cost 300-400 million to build the trail, but most of those funds would be for permits, designs, and construction of watershed restoration and erosion control measures, invasive plant control, railroad waste cleanup and anadromous fish passage work. These are costs related to the unmitigated damages from the railroad and its erosion contributing features. They are not trail costs. The actual cost of trail and related facilities would be in the millions, not hundreds of millions as some have suggested. The reason I have used these high estimates is because the restoration has to happen no matter what. We cannot simply walk away from this disaster. It is time for the Eel River to get some serious restoration re-investment after over a hundred years of taking the capitol from the bank. Realistically this will take hundreds of millions for restoration and conversion to a trail.

Comment by Sungnome Madrone

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