Archive for transportation

Public comments sought for rail EIR

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 17, 2009 by highboldtage

Public comments sought for rail EIR


By Linda Williams/TWN Staff Writer


While the public comment period closes May 1, the deadline has been extended to May 18 for cities, counties and metropolitan organizations.

The full text of the draft EIR is available at Public comments may be mailed to North Coast Railroad Authority; 419 Talmage Road, Suite M; Ukiah, CA 95482, or emailed to

Humboldt Hillbilly

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 11, 2009 by highboldtage

Humboldt Hillbilly

1st choice for SMART’s rail cars goes out of business

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 8, 2009 by highboldtage

1st choice for SMART’s rail cars goes out of business

Colorado company bankrupt, but agency says it has options

Published: Wednesday, January 7, 2009 at 4:20 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 7, 2009 at 5:25 a.m.

The Colorado manufacturer of the passenger rail cars initially chosen by transit planners for the Sonoma-Marin commute train service has gone out of business.

Colorado Railcars, the only U.S. maker of passenger rail cars to meet federal crash specifications, shut its Fort Lupton, Colo., manufacturing plant on Dec. 23.

2 Trains Collide in Minnesota, cars in river, chemical leaks

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 17, 2008 by highboldtage

2 trains collide in Winona County; cars fall into riverA 1,000-gallon liquid propane tank near the tracks was leaking, and nitrogen was leaking from one of the trains that derailed in the 5:30 a.m. crash near Dresbach, officials say.


Two freight trains collided head-on before dawn this morning in extreme southeastern Minnesota, sending some of the derailed cars into the Mississippi River, authorities said.

SMART or dumb?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2008 by highboldtage

SMART or dumb?
By David Bolling


Thu, October 9, 7:04 PM

Before the end of this century, you’ll be able to take a clean, energy efficient train from Cloverdale to Larkspur and from Santa Rosa to New York.

The county will be laced with jitney routes carrying passengers to rail terminals, one of which could be as close as Schellville. Most working people will no longer commute to San Francisco because most of the jobs will be strung along the Highway 101 corridor. The freeway will be less crowded, the air will be clean, and bike paths shadowing the rail lines will provide healthy, carbon-free transit options all over the county.

That’s one version of reality extrapolated from the vision painted by proponents of SMART, the Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit system that would be funded by a quarter-cent sales tax on the November ballot. But here’s another vision.

A $500 million boondoggle that will swallow available transit funds for a rail line to nowhere that no one will ride, while cheaper more flexible transit options serving all of Sonoma County, including the Valley of the Moon, will be co-opted and foreclosed. Instead of a network of jitney busses, commuting motorists will clog the roads getting to the few rail heads where insufficient parking will be available for a trip that will end up costing too much and taking too long to get them efficiently to work.

Is SMART smart? Or dumb? That’s the basic question presented to voters by Measure Q, the third ballot measure to attempt to generate the necessary two-thirds vote to fund the SMART train.

But critics have long contended that SMART ridership estimates are inflated and that the train will never pay for itself. Some critics, reviewing the daily biking/hiking estimates for the parallel pathway, call them absurd.

More to they point, they say, SMART is asking voters to invest half a billion dollars over 21 years in technology and centrally-concentrated infrastructure they believe will be obsolete before the tax expires.

Former county supervisor Ernie Carpenter has called SMART the “silly train,” and signed the voter’s pamphlet argument against Measure Q. Also signing was Joan Vilms, a land-use and open-space expert who argues that “SMART won’t pick people up where they are or take them where they want to go.” She claims the money could be better spent on SMART vans and busses on non-fixed routes that are more neighborhood based.


Vilms also worries that SMART will spur explosive growth along the 101 corridor and said land speculation is already taking place along the route.

Even more disturbing, according to Vilms, is that passage of SMART will signal destruction of a wild stretch of the Eel River.

That’s because to help finance the project, SMART has entered into an agreement with the North Coast Railroad Authority (NCRA) which owns the old Northwestern Pacific track extending north from Healdsburg.

The NCRA, in turn, intends to contract with a reborn Northwestern Pacific Railroad to carry freight on the line and that freight, claims Vilms, will have track priority over passenger service.

More alarming to her is the prospect of the freight service being used to haul gravel mined from the bed of the Eel, in a remote section not otherwise accessible. Vilms, a longtime advocate of river protection and a founding member of Friends of the Russian River, argues the impact of gravel mining on the Eel could be devastating.

Don’t Haul Nuclear Waste Through Our Town!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 9, 2008 by highboldtage

Novato unable to reach rail deal



Citing an outpouring of community and environmental concern including the possibility of hauling nuclear waste, the Novato City Council again delayed weighing in Wednesday on a settlement with the North Coast Railroad Authority.”Negotiations are continuing,” said Mayor Pat Eklund. “Issues were raised that we were not aware of which is why we’ll continue negotiating.”

She said the next meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 14 at the Novato Unified School District office.

Wednesday was the latest of multiple times the council met over the past week to discuss the settlement to address “quiet zones” at railroad crossings and the need for an environmental impact report.


Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 15, 2008 by highboldtage




Sonoma and Marin county voters will vote on a rail transit measure Nov. 4.

Measure Q asks voters in Marin and Sonoma counties to approve a quarter-cent sales tax for 20 years to finance a passenger train service between Cloverdale and Larkspur proposed by the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit group.

The $450 million rail project with 14 train stations and a $91 million pedestrian and bicycle path requires the approval of two-thirds of the total number of votes in the counties. It narrowly failed in 2006 when Sonoma County voters approved it but Marin County voters did not.

Even the wording submitted by opponents of the controversial project in the voter information pamphlet was the subject of a lawsuit in both counties.
Opponents say the train will destroy wetlands and devastate wildlife along the 70-mile route. If facilitated by the rail project, freight trains along the Northwestern Pacific Railroad corridor and gravel mining might damage the Eel River and its threatened salmon and steelhead.

Opponents also claim any reductions in vehicle trips, carbon emissions and gas consumption would be too tiny to make a difference in air quality. They believe the trains would spew cancer-causing exhaust and back up cars idling at every street crossing.

They call the project a “train to nowhere” that would force many to subsidize a few riders to Marin County. They believe the train will lose $12 million a year and it does not go where most Sonoma County residents live and work. The area needs mass transit to San Francisco and the East Bay, not just to Marin County, opponents argue.

Federal funding will pay 3 percent of the costs, state funding 7 percent, Regional Measure 2 will pay 3 percent, Sonoma County’s Measure M Traffic Relief Act will pay 2 percent and capital off-sets for ongoing track upgrades will contribute 3 percent, according to SMART. The 20-year investment in the project is estimated at $1.2 billion.

KHSU Election 2008 Coverage

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 7, 2008 by highboldtage

KHSU Election 2008 Coverage

Election 2008, Tuesday November 4

KHSU Coverage

Live from the Kate Buchanan Room on the campus of Humboldt State University
Monday September 8, 2008, Arcata City Council Forum.

Michael Machi, incumbent
Michael Winkler
Jason A. Grow
Geronimo Garcia
Susan Ornelas
Shane Brinton

KHSU/KHSR will once again partner with KEET Public Television to offer the following candidate debates/forums.Wednesday, October 1, 7-8 pm
Supervisor, County of Humboldt, District 2CANDIDATES:
Clif Clendenen
Estelle Fennell 
Johanna Rodoni, incumbent and write-in candidate.Monday, October 6, 7-8 pm
Eureka City Council


Ward 2:
Linda Atkins 
Polly Endert, incumbent

Ward 4:
Frank J. Jager
George Clark

Wednesday, October 8, 7-8:30 pm
Arcata City Council

Michael Machi, incumbent
Michael Winkler
Jason A. Grow
Geronimo Garcia
Susan Ornelas
Shane Brinton

Monday, October 13, 7-8 pm
State Assembly, District 1

Wesley Chesbro, Democratic
Jim Pell, Republican

Monday, October 20, 7-8 pm
U. S. Representative, District 1

Mike Thompson, Democratic, incumbent
Carol Wolman, Green
Zane Starkewolf, Republican

Wednesday, October 22, 7-8:30 pm
Fortuna City Council

Don Mayden
Odell Shelton, Jr.
Douglas Strehl, incumbent
Tom Mulholland
Kenneth E. Zanzi

Monday, October 27, 7-8 pm
Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District


Division 1:
Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, incumbent
Stephen Davies

Division 3:
Barbara Hecathorn, incumbent
Robert A. Schultz

Wednesday, October 29, 7-8:30 pm
Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District


Division 2:
Edward “Buzz” Webb
Tera Prucha
Jake Pickering
Ben Shepherd
Adrienne Floreen

NCRA: “No timetable for extending service to Eureka.”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2008 by highboldtage

Freight line, Novato talk settlement

City sued North Coast Railroad Authority over environmental report on reopening service

Published: Friday, September 5, 2008 at 4:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, September 5, 2008 at 3:41 a.m.

The North Coast Railroad Authority and Novato are trying to settle an environmental dispute that has stalled the return of freight rail service to Sonoma, Napa and Marin counties.

A trial in the case has been postponed until Sept. 30 while the two sides talk.



Novato sued NCRA in Marin County Superior Court last year, charging the rail authority hasn’t considered the environmental impacts of freight trains on the former Northwestern Pacific Railroad.

The historic route has been closed since 2001, when storm damage made it unsafe for train traffic.

Since then, the state has granted $50 million to repair a 62-mile right-of-way between Napa and Windsor. Freight service was supposed to resume in mid-2008, but the lawsuit has halted the final phase of repairs.

In January, Marin County Superior Court Judge James Ritchie said the rail authority may have violated the state’s environmental law by failing to study all the impacts of its freight service.

Novato is seeking a study of train impacts on the full 300-mile route from Napa to Eureka. Novato officials say the trains will cause traffic tie-ups, noise problems and air pollution.

NCRA is preparing an environmental report on just the southern half of the line, arguing there is no timetable for extending service to Eureka.

NCRA and its backers said freight rail should be restored because it will save fuel, cut the number of heavy trucks on Highway 101 and reduce costs for shippers. The authority has awarded a contract to a private company, NWP Co., to operate trains on the route.



Northwestern Pacific RR says trail too close to track

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2008 by highboldtage

Freight operator says trail too close to track

By Tim Omarzu
Managing Editor
Wednesday, August 27, 2008 2:01 PM PDT


The SMART commuter train proposal on the November ballot calls for building a 70-mile-long bicycle and pedestrian path alongside the track from Cloverdale to Larkspur.

But John Williams, the man who hopes to run freight trains on the same track as SMART, says the proposed trail won’t be safe, because it will be too close to the rails.

For about 40 percent of the trail’s length, or some 28 miles, the trail will be 15 feet away from the centerline of the track, according to Williams. He says that trains will speed by at more than 80 miles an hour.

“I don’t think that’s safe,” said Williams, the president of the Northwestern Pacific Railroad Co.

Williams said that due to the threat of train derailment, the trail should be at least 100 feet away from the centerline of the track. But that’s not possible along the SMART track, he said, because the rail corridor is too narrow — 60 to 80 feet, generally, he said.