Capdiamont\’s Weblog

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.


NWP area news
Wednesday 18 Nov 2009, 08:52
Filed under: Model Railroad, Napa Valley, NCRA, Northwestern Pacific Railroad, Railroad, SMART

I don’t know how I keep missing this but we have a nice new NWP social website. I added it to the links, finally. Northwestern Pacific Railroad Network

NCRA meeting 18 Nov 2009 Eureka, CA I’ve had the audio file up a little bit, but didn’t post about it.

NVR: New traffic lights to ease clog of track work

Not NWP area. LA Times: Schwarzenegger quietly quashed effort to improve commuter rails

MIJ: Highway 101 bike path in San Rafael delayed

The final phase involves the path from downtown San Rafael to the top of Lincoln Avenue, as well as new sound walls and moving the Northwest Pacific railroad tracks about 50 feet west. Backers of the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit plan to use the rails for service set to begin in 2014.

Another Humboldt Co blog Lynette’s NorCal History Blog has had a series of railroad related posts. Hard to believe there was competition to be the 1st between Eureka, and Arcata.

NVR: Riding the rails, in miniature
Napa model railroad club.

MIJ: One year later: SMART rail plan faces challenges. Umm, yeah, economy still isn’t doing so well, and even if there wasn’t money challenges, there would still be other challenges.

Not NWP, but in ten, fifteen years, it could be written about SMART.
Commuter rail: Once a gamble, TRAX ingrained in Wasatch Front’s future

Napa Valley Wine Train Participates in Highly Rated TV Show

SRPD: Public to have say on SMART rail car plans

Final call for passengers on the Orient Express as service is scrapped

The world famous Orient Express is to make its final journey after falling victim to cut-price air flights and high-speed railways

Also not NWP.

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Various NWP area railroad news
Saturday 7 Nov 2009, 12:02
Filed under: Humboldt, Marin, Napa Valley, North Coast Railroad, Railroad, Samoa

THA finishes lower boiler shop roof!

Lower boiler shop roof finished Nov 2009, Samoa, CA

Lower boiler shop roof finished Nov 2009, Samoa, CA

TS: Answering the call

Various retired teachers volunteering their time.

Some retired teachers rack up an incredible number of hours focused mainly on one special interest. A good example of that kind of dedication is Mike Kellogg, retired social science teacher at Eureka High School. A man of many talents, he has given most of his 1,150 reported volunteer hours this past year for the Timber Heritage Association.

SF Gate: Bill Provines – fireman on novel train – dies

Bill Provines, the last surviving employee of the famous “crookedest railroad in the world” that once climbed Mount Tamalpais, died Friday at his home in Novato of heart failure. He was 101.

Vacaville The Reporter: Rail cars arrive for refurbishment

Drivers crossing the Wichels Causeway on and off Mare Island on Wednesday were privy to a recent rarity on the island: A train chugging across, whistle blowing.

Wednesday marked the first installment of Mare Island newcomer business Alstom’s plans to refurbish 66 Amtrak Capitol Corridor trains. The initial three passenger cars to grace newly aligned track leading into Alstom’s Building 599 warehouse were towed by Alstom venture partner, San Francisco Bay Railroad.

I’m pretty sure it was a horn, not a whistle blowing. Thanks to Shawn for providing this one.

Link to video, embedded didn’t seem to work for me.

Here is a quick timelapse video of the recent joining of the P&SR Caboose #1 onto it’s newly rebuilt trucks. More video of the event coming soon.

NVR: Devlin extension gets rolling

For the next several weeks, trucks will build a section of a bridge over railroad tracks north of Green Island Road, using soil from a hill near Napa County Airport.

Map of area

Green Island road is south of, and runs along the tracks leading to NWP/NCRA. Should provide another vantage point for railfans.

1948 U.S. Railroad Atlas Thanks to those who have posted this online.

NWP might haul biodiesel feedstock and other NWP/Napa Valley railroad news.
Monday 5 Oct 2009, 09:25
Filed under: Marin, Napa Valley, NCRA, Northwestern Pacific Railroad, Novato, Petaluma, Railroad, SMART, Sonoma Biodiesel plant OK’d for former truck-stop site
Company will manufacture, supply alternative vehicle fuel at Petaluma Boulevard South off-ramp

Royal Petroleum received the county’s blessing earlier this year to add a 9,000-square-foot biodiesel plant at the former Rinehart’s truck stop and scales, near the Highway 101 off-ramp to Petaluma Boulevard South.

Each year, the plant is expected to produce 5 million gallons of the fuel — a processed form of plant oil — to be sold at Royal Petroleum’s network of stations, Hill said.

Initially, the unprocessed plant matter needed to make the fuel will be trucked to the site from Richmond, but the finished product will supplant standard petroleum-based diesel, the company noted.

The site’s proximity to the Petaluma River and the railroad tracks could also mean future deliveries via barge or freight train, the company suggested.

NBay Business Journal: SMART out seeking proposals to start rail project

NORTH BAY – Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit has requested proposals for three major contracts for the $590 million rail project and is about to put out requests for the remaining three.

New railroad for Mare Island. “San Francisco Bay Railroad-Mare Island”
This eight mile railroad would operate between Flosden Acres, and Mare Island. It will be interesting to railfan the interchange area, considering NWP will interchange not too much north of this railroads interchange area. Docket Number: FD_35304_0, filed 28 Sept 2009.

Down in the area over the weekend. The south part of the Ignacio wye has been cleaned up of weeds. I noticed on Saturday ballast work was done through Novato, but not yet in Petaluma. The new crossing by Petaluma’s sewer plant, has the cement crossings installed now, and just needs asphalt to fill it in. Got to watch the electrical contractor go through the depot area on a hyrail pickup.

Win A Trip Aboard A Private Rail Car, THA, and other NWP area news

I’ve been a miss, with the news lately, though that makes some of you happy.

Samoa Roundhouse with Timber Heritage Association collection

Samoa Roundhouse with Timber Heritage Association collection

Win A Trip Aboard A Private Rail Car
Emeryville – Reno – Emeryville
January 15th to 17th or February 12th – 14th
Step aboard the opulent private rail car and experience all
the romance and nostalgia of a bygone era. Enjoy spectacular
scenery, fine food, warm and friendly staff to pamper you, so
you can relax and have fun in an elegant atmosphere. The
Virginia City is an elegant private rail car that has a brassrailed
open observation platform, cozy lounge with a working
fireplace, and dramatic dining room with an ornate crystal
The package includes round trip for two, meals, alcohol and
overnight accommodations. The value of the package is
$1,118. raffle conducted by the timber heritage association
Raffle Tickets Are Only $10
need not be present to win ˜ Drawing October 23rd
Purchase as many as you want now!

Timber Heritage Association will have an Oktoberfest Fundraiser, Oct 23rd. Oysters and ale event won’t be happening this year, last I heard.

The last speeder run for this year is this Saturday.

A neat site with some old Humboldt photos, including rail.

Down in Santa Rosa, The Great Handcar Regatta will take place at the depot on Sunday
SR PD article, and website.

Hand-Built Railcar Races, Arts, Performance, Live Music, Crafts, Fine Foods, Costumed Rabble & more!
Sunday, September 27th, 2009. 11 am to 6 pm.
Railroad Square, Santa Rosa, CA, in Depot Park between 4th / 5th Streets & Wilson Street
ITEM! Free Valet Bike Parking!
FREE to all denizens of delight, curiosity, and “Play-ticipation”
Why, for a Splendid Celebration of Art, Science and Ingenuity for the Joy and Edification of all who attend, of course!

Last I heard, they have the ballast completed from the wye under the interchange of freeway 101 and freeway 37 to the interchange with the other railroads. They should be fully in Navato now.

MIJ: Final site of gravity car decided by council [Mill Valley] in the same plaza.

The wooden structure would be angled more so the front of the car faces the end of the plaza and shifted about four feet closer to a grove of redwood trees, according to City Manager Anne Montgomery.

Over in Napa, stimulus funds have shortened the building two new bridges for the wine train. One is a replacement for a trestle over the Napa river, which clogged up the river during storms, and the other for a new flood bypass channel.

NWP and Napa Valley railroad news

Trolley group says thanks

Editor: The Petaluma Trolley Living History Museum had yet another successful music extravaganza, held June 20 at the Yellow Barn. Our list of supporters allowed us to continue our preservation efforts in a very festive way. One of our missions is to keep the city of Petaluma and our community informed of the restoration efforts of our historic trolley system and trestle.

Foremost, our thanks go out to Rich and Angela DeCarli for their support. At 110 Baylis St., our museum’s inventory has increased and we hold our business meetings there. Currently, the museum will be open the first and third Sunday of the month from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Our supporters play an invaluable part in all that we stand for. Deep appreciation and gratitude goes out to: Bella Luma Caffe, Lagunitas Brewery, Preferred Sonoma Caterers and Napa Sonoma Vineyards Group. We also thank musicians: The Artifacts, D’Bunchovus, Bruce Kurnow, Chris Rowan, Scott Gerber & Cori Wood, Larry Potts, Los Gu’achis, Steve Della Maggiora and Andrea Stevick. Thanks also to all our volunteers. See you next year.

Trixy Fraser, recording secretary, Petaluma Trolley

TH: Redirecting rails for an industrial transport rebirth at Mare Island

What looked like deconstruction of a portion of Mare Island’s railroad tracks Monday was actually a partial rebirth for island industrial transport.

For about the past month, Pinole-based Industrial Railways Company workers have kept a low profile as they prepared to redirect track just behind the Mare Island Convention Center over the Wichels Causeway, said company partner Craig Nolan.

TS: Riding the rails: New book features California’s railroading past

”Railroads of California” celebrates Golden State railroading, offering a colorful look at California’s legendary railroads, the men who built and ran them and the engineering feats that made them possible. It also explores the legacy those railroads have left in the form of the state’s historic tourist roads and museums, as well as modern railroad operations.

Erasmus P. Kitty Presents: The 2nd Annual 2009 Great West End & Railroad Square Handcar Regatta & Exposition of Mechanical & Artistic Wonders!
Hand-built Railcar Races!

A Splendid Celebration of Art, Science and Ingenuity, for the Delight and Edification of all who attend.

A Spectacle for both Young and Old!


Hand-Built Railcar Races, Arts, Performance, Live Music, Crafts, Fine Foods, Costumed Rabble & more!
Sunday, September 27th, 2009. 11 am to 6 pm.
Railroad Square, Santa Rosa, CA, in Depot Park between 4th / 5th Streets & Wilson Street
FREE to all denizens of delight and merriment
Why, for a Splendid Celebration of Art, Science and Ingenuity, for the Delight and Edification of all who attend, of course!

NVR: License flap on flood project

The Napa flood project ran into a wave of embarrassment this week when it appeared that the company with the $65 million federal railroad relocation contract had let its license expire.

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NWP and Napa Valley news
Saturday 8 Aug 2009, 08:05
Filed under: bicycle, Marin, Napa Valley, Northwestern Pacific Railroad, Railroad, trails, transit

MIJ: Cal Park Hill Tunnel opening will be delayed about six months

Planners hoped to open the old railroad tunnel and its adjacent approaches by the end of this year, or just after the New Year. While the tunnel is expected to be done by then, work on its north and south approaches will likely not be finished until next summer, officials said.

Until the approaches to the tunnel are finished, it can’t be used.

“There was a delay in easement acquisitions and encroachment permits from Caltrans,” said Craig Tackaberry, a county public works official helping oversee the project.

Part of the approach includes a mile of pathway to Andersen Drive in San Rafael that will be improved for bicyclists and pedestrians.

The $25.1 million project – split between state and county funds – also needs $800,000 in additional unanticipated work, primarily to help fill the gaps between the steel supports and the tunnel’s rock wall.

NVR: On track with a clean, efficient new locomotive

The American Canyon railroad company recently acquired the first of five “green” locomotives. The engine has the latest technology for fuel efficiency, generates little noise and is about 60 percent less polluting than a conventional locomotive engine.

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