Capdiamont\’s Weblog

NWP area railroad news
Friday 30 Apr 2010, 07:17
Filed under: bicycle, Humboldt, Marin, Mendocino, NCRA, Northwestern Pacific Railroad, Railroad, Samoa, THA, trails, Ukiah

THA Gaining Gorgeous Train Cars – April 28, 2010 [with photos]

Cal Park Hill Tunnel project gets final dollars, to open in October

The Cal Park Hill Tunnel is expected to open to the public in October after a regional agency this week approved almost $3 million for final work on the project.

Inmates clean up around the railroad tracks

Inmate crews have been organized by Ukiah to clean up the overgrown corridor of the railroad tracks this week.

Crews out of the Chamberlain Creek Conservation Camp west of Willits got started on the project Monday near the renovated rail depot on Perkins Street. The crews had leveled overgrown grass and bushes from Perkins south to about the Grace Hudson Park.


NWP, and Napa area railroad news

North Coast Railroad Authority has extended the comment period for the recirculated Draft EIR to 5:00 p.m. January 14, 2010.

Green Wheels:An Update on the Eureka-Arcata 101 Improvement Project

In the grand scheme of regional non-motorized connectivity between cities, the 101 is at the top of the list. If built, the 101 Eureka-Arcata Corridor Improvement Project has the potential to negatively impact trail development between Arcata and Eureka. Designing “improvements” for the 101 without certain accommodation for the Humboldt Bay Trail— a future portion of the California Coastal Trail (SB908)— could potentially hem us in. The proposed Humboldt Bay Trail will likely fall on either Caltrans right of way or the North Coast Railroad Authority (NCRA) right-of-way. So, any development along the 101 that increases the width of 101 could impact our ability to have a Rail-with-Trail. This leaves us with our other option, Rail-to-Trail, not only a harder sell among railroad stalwarts, but a cue to Caltrans that this issue cannot be talked about in isolation from the HBT.

The NCRA and Caltrans share another issue in common—sea level rise—which goes hand in hand with trail design as well. To protect the highway from rising sea levels, either the entire highway needs to be elevated, or the railroad prism needs to be enhanced to act as a levy. If Caltrans chooses to enhance the railroad prism as a levy, it makes fiscal sense to do it in a way that accommodates the proposed Class I multi-use trail on the levy. If they choose to raise the level of 101, either gradually as it undergoes maintenance, or as part of this project, Caltrans musti establish that a Class I multi-use trail is fully feasible outside the Caltrans right-of-way in the face of wetland constraints and sea level rise challenges to the trail, or must accommodate the trail within its right-of-way and protect it, along with the highway facility from sea level rise. This will require Caltrans to conduct design, engineering and permitting for the trail to fully establish its feasibility.

MIJ: Report: Alto Hill Tunnel reopening carries big price tag

The $225,000 study, paid for with federal funds, will be discussed at a meeting Wednesday in Mill Valley.

It estimates reopening the half-mile Alto Tunnel between the two communities would cost $48 million to $52 million, which would include adding a 10-foot-wide bike path and an 8-foot-wide pedestrian walkway.

SRPD: Public makes pitch for SMART train features

It’s their trains, and the public at a Wednesday night workshop made it clear what they would like the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit cars to look like.

An open letter from Wine Train to Sen. McCain

It worries me that no calls were made before we were held up to the entire American public — a small business in Northern California — as an enormous source of government waste.
If you had spoken with us, or even project officials, you might have asked: Why would the Napa Valley Wine Train need, or take,

$54 million in taxpayer money to move a small section of rail line 33 feet? The answer is: We didn’t!

So, who does? Napa County has an award-winning flood control project and design; one that was proposed, and approved by voters, many years ago. This is the project that is being funded. That design has impacted a lot of businesses. It has necessitated the movement of several rights-of-way, and at my last count four or five bridges (including the Wine Train’s). The goal of this project is to protect the city of Napa from continued flooding, period, not enhance specific companies.

SRPD: SMART gets $2.5 million for commute-rail work

The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit district has received $2.5 million in federal funds for preliminary engineering and environmental work on its planned commuter rail line.

SRPD: Builder, taxpayer groups protest SMART deal

Leaders of the North Coast Builders Exchange and the Sonoma County Taxpayers Association demanded Wednesday that SMART directors put a stop to negotiations between their Railroad Square project developer and a group representing labor and environmental interests.

UDJ: Possible sites for new courthouse discussed


“It’s a classic win-win, because we would have enough property for freight and passenger service in the future, and the land could be used for an important public service,” Stogner said.

The site used to be a railroad maintenance yard, and the land was contaminated when the NCRA bought it from Pacific Union Railroad in 1996, according to Stogner. He said a study needs to be done to determine what the contamination is and how to go about cleaning up the site.

“They (Pacific Union) have until 2013,” Stogner said. “Whatever is done with the property, the cleanup responsibility will have to be assigned by the purchaser, or worked out with the responsible party, which is Union Pacific Railroad.”

The AOC expects to complete the new Ukiah courthouse by 2015, and planned $5.6 million for property acquisition.

Stogner said another hurdle to jump for locating at the depot site is that the NCRA needs permission to sell the land from Caltrans and the Federal Highway Administration, which contributed money for the purchase.

MIJ: Not all on board for high-density housing near rail stations

Last week the Metropolitan Transportation Commission handed out $1.8 million to cities to provide financial support “for planning processes that seek to increase transit ridership by maximizing the development potential around current or future transit stations and corridors.”

The MTC – which is pushing housing and retail around transit hubs to limit car trips – happily handed out the cash to every city that applied for the dollars in Marin and Sonoma. But in Marin only one of the three eligible cities stepped forward: San Rafael. Novato and Larkspur passed, each saying they were not quite ready to embrace the concept until they know more.

San Rafael received $140,000 to plan around a Civic Center Station, which will go in along the west side of Civic Center Drive, and another $388,000 for planning at its downtown station just north the transit center. The city will have to provide a 20 percent match.

NVR: Hidden history in Napa

Amid the grit and grease that is Wine Country Motors on Sixth Street, mechanics tromp over ribbons of steel embedded in the concrete floor.

These rails might seem as out of place as a mounted moose head, but they tell a story. Wine Country Motors occupies a building that accommodated a century of the city’s transportation history.
Wine Country Motors and half a dozen other contemporary businesses are housed within the shell of the enormous car barn of the old Vallejo, Benicia & Napa Valley Railroad.

Built in 1905, the car barn and repair shop remained after the electric railroad went belly-up in 1935. Today people visit the ghost of the old railroad to rent a car, buy smoking supplies, or get their vehicle smogged.

City agrees to spend money to restore Ukiah depot – Ukiah Daily Journal
Thursday 6 Aug 2009, 07:03
Filed under: Mendocino, NCRA, Northwestern Pacific Railroad, Railroad, Ukiah

The Ukiah Redevelopment Agency committed $163,084 Wednesday to a project that will restore the Ukiah Railroad Depot to its original 1929 condition.

via City agrees to spend money to restore Ukiah depot – Ukiah Daily Journal.

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NCRA, SMART, and Wine train news

Ukiah Daily Journal: 50-year lease: City to renovate historic Ukiah depot

The council approved a lease contract with the North Coast Railroad Authority which gives the city a 50-year lease on the depot for a dollar a year, with an option for another 20 years.

In return, the city will use highway and redevelopment funds to bring back the depot to its original 1929 condition.

The city has awarded a contract to Cupples Construction for $389,000. About two thirds will come from federal highway fund grants funneled through Caltrans and about one third – $106,000 – will come from the city’s redevelopment funding.

Now that all the pieces are in place, Pruden said the rehabilitation should begin right away and be completed in about four months.

Under the lease, if the railroad begins passenger service before the end of the lease and wants to use the depot, the city and NCRA are required to try to come up with a way to share the depot. If an agreement can’t be reached, NCRA can take back the depot, but only with Caltrans’ permission.

MIJ: SMART picks heavy cars for Marin-Sonoma rail system

Marin and Sonoma train passengers will ride heavy diesel trains linking the two counties when service is scheduled to start in 2014.

SRPD: SMART selects American-made rail cars

Directors of the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit system on Wednesday chose the heavier American-style rail car over its European counterpart, but promised it would be every bit as quiet, comfortable and sleek.

“It’s not only got to look cool, it has to ride well and be a good neighbor,” said Charles McGlashan, a Marin County supervisor and SMART chairman.

The decision, which came on a 9-2 vote, directs staff to begin writing specifications, from the number of bathrooms on a train car to how many bicycles it can hold. The process will take several months and cost $400,000.

It also allows SMART engineers to begin designing rail stations, platforms and maintenance facilities along the 70-mile, Cloverdale-to-Larkspur commute line.

NVR: St. Helena mayor wants public vote on Wine Train

Détente has been declared between St. Helena and the Napa Valley Wine Train, but Mayor Del Britton isn’t so sure that St. Helena citizens are ready to lay down their arms.

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NCJ: Humboldt Environmental groups threaten to sue NCRA about Brown act and mortgage of Ukiah property.
Wednesday 7 Jan 2009, 10:56
Filed under: Humboldt, Mendocino, NCRA, Northwestern Pacific Railroad, Railroad, Ukiah

Earlier today, three Humboldt County environmental organizations — the Friends of the Eel, Humboldt Baykeeper, and the Environmental Protection Information Center — sent the NCRA a letter demanding that the agency reverse its decision to mortgage land in the City of Ukiah to pay off Novato. (We wrote about this in December.) The groups argue that the decision to mortgage the property was not properly noticed, and that therefore concerned citizens — and the city of Ukiah itself — had no way of speaking to the matter. Specifically, the agenda for the meeting never mentioned the property in question.

The authority has 30 days to reverse the action before the groups sue.

So, why is it the Humboldt groups, and not Ukiah, etc doing it?

In other news highway 101 is going to start to be widened again, removing over 300 redwood trees

There are 342 redwood trees along the stretch, between Steele Lane in Santa Rosa and Windsor-River Road in Windsor, that will be removed beginning Monday.

Keep blocking the railroad, and tell me it you do it for environmental reasons.

UDJ: Lifelong love of trains
Saturday 2 Aug 2008, 07:36
Filed under: Mendocino, Railroad, Ukiah

By ROB BURGESS The Daily Journal
Article Last Updated: 07/30/2008 12:01:35 AM PDT

Doug Crane has enough trains on his property to comfortably fit every resident of the city he leads.

That is, if they were all a half-inch tall and didn’t have a desire to travel by rail outside his basement.

“There are only a few thousand of us left in the world who collect at this level and we’re dying off slowly,” said the Ukiah mayor at home Tuesday morning as he stood in front of one of the seemingly endless rows of model train-laden track. “My interest is primarily engines. This isn’t even all of it — I’ve still got a fair amount in boxes.”

Model railroading is a hobby in which rail transport systems are modeled at a reduced scale, or ratio. Model railway engines are generally operated by low-voltage DC electricity supplied via the tracks.

“These are all based on real trains,” said Crane, standing in front of a 400-watt transformer that powers the loop of tracing through the rows of engines.

In addition to the queues of white folding tables that are almost completely covered with track and train in Crane’s downstairs room, an entire wall of the room is devoted to shelving and display of the collection.

Crane said he preferred to leave the landscaping aspect out of his pastime and instead focus on amassing his now sizeable assemblage.

“I enjoy the collecting aspect of it,” he said. “It’s less time consuming to put them on tables and shelve them than it is to get them into a layout.”

Crane said the collection has been a lifelong passion that began
in his childhood.

“I started as a kid,” he said. “I started with wind-up trains as a small boy. Over the years people have said things like we don’t have space for this, you can take it for four boxes for $10.'”

Crane said that whether it was the cable cars of San Francisco or the passenger train he took to Boy Scout camp, rail travel has always been a significant part of his life.

“When I was a kid it was common to have two trains a day go through with 100-plus cars each.” he said. “The Southern Pacific as we knew it doesn’t exist anymore. The number of real’ railroads is down to less than a dozen. I thought it would be good to have a commuter rail, but the numbers have to work. The problem becomes: who is going to pay for it?”

Crane said he finds inspiration for the problem-solving he performs during his daily tasks in the number of varied propulsion techniques represented in the engines that populate his collection.

“Typically we’ll find a train to ride on for vacation,” he said. “It’s astounding how many different variations exist on the theme of getting steel moving down tracks. There are lots of different efforts and solutions.”

Rob Burgess can be reached at

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