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Port Sonoma ferry service earmark sits idle

By MARTIN ESPINOZA

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

It took a mysterious act of Congress to get $20 million in federal funds earmarked for controversial ferry service at Port Sonoma Marina. And it

Port Sonoma (PD FILE, 1998)

Port Sonoma (PD FILE, 1998)

will take an act of Congress to get rid of it.

The funds were first earmarked in 2005, added to a $286 billion federal transportation bill by Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, after local interests and former Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, lobbied for the project.

The project sought to create ferry service from Port Sonoma to other Bay Area locations, including San Francisco, Oakland and AT&T Park. The port, which is owned by Berg Holdings of Sausalito, sits on the Petaluma River at the Sonoma and Napa county lines, with access from Highway 37.

On Wednesday, Marin Independent Journal columnist Dick Spotswood reported that the funding had been included in the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s latest draft of 2013 Transportation Improvement Program, or TIP, projects.

The TIP lists an earmark of $19.3 million for the 2012/13 fiscal year. The sponsor of the project is listed as North Bay Ferry Service, a company created by Skip Berg of Berg Holdings in 2004.

But MTC spokesman John Goodwin said the earmark is nothing more than a “carry-over” from previous TIP lists. He said that unlike most of the other projects on the MTC list, “it’s extremely doubtful that this is a real project.”

Technically, he said, “the earmark that it received from Congress is still valid and will remain accessible until Congress rescinds the earmark.”

But he added that a number of steps must be taken before the federal government cuts any checks.

Goodwin said the project sponsor must find a public agency co-sponsor for the project, such as the Sonoma County Water Agency or the Golden Gate Transit District. After that, he said, MTC would need to take additional action to include the project in its regional transportation plan, a long-term plan conducted every four years.

“Even though the project is listed in the TIP, funding is not accessible to North Bay Ferry Service,” Goodwin said.

J.T. Wick, a principal with Berg Holdings, said the project is as dead as it was in January 2012, when he told The Press Democrat that Berg Holdings was no longer pursuing the project.

“There’s no money in our account,” Wick said. “That money is still in the federal treasury.”

Wick said that even “in the best of times, it would have been a challenging project.” But with the recession, none of the potential co-sponsors wanted to undertake the project.

He said Berg Holdings’ chief effort at the marina is completing the environmental impact report for a project to raise 528 acres of farmland it owns adjacent to Port Sonoma using dredge spoils.





6 Responses to “Port Sonoma ferry service earmark sits idle”

  1. Kathy Robler says:

    Another fine example of Woolsey’s ability to spend our tax money on boondoggles. She is gone but not forgotten and this is one of her finer corrupted legacies we are left with to remember her.

    There should be a monument at the site to this socialist looney.

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  2. Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us twice... says:

    JT Wick “said Berg Holdings’ chief effort at the marina is completing the environmental impact report for a project to raise 528 acres of farmland it owns adjacent to Port Sonoma using dredge spoils.”

    Nonsense.

    Skip Berg declared in an interview in a San Francisco magazine a couple of years ago that ‘the real value of this investment property is its connection between rail, the water and trucking.’

    Yeah, they make innocent-sounding declarations about taking dredge spoils to use for raising worms and farming.

    Berg and Wick were investors in NorthWestern Pacific railroad company, which wants a terminal for rock and carrying garbage in southern Sonoma County, at the water. That’s what this is really about.

    Get real about this PD, please, so we aren’t fooled again by Berg’s charades.

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  3. BigDogatPlay says:

    A public agency as a partner…. like the Bay Area Water Transit Authority created by then State Senator Don Perata? Something of a fiefdom for him, even though he isn’t publicly involved. Which recently had it’s name changed SB976 to the Bay Area Emergency Water Transit Authority after people started figuring out what a phoney baloney, feather bedded boondoggle it was in the first place.

    http://www.watertransit.org/

    Don’t say a Port Sonoma ferry won’t ever get done. People said the same thing about SMART for years and look whats happened.

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  4. Joshua Slocum says:

    The marina looks great, but it has been a disaster because it silts in.

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  5. Reality Check says:

    Millions of dollars–mysteriously appropriated–for ferry service from Port Sonoma to SF. One more reason why our roads are deteriorating.

    Why? No one seems to know. Herein lies a chance for former Rep. Woolsey to demonstrate her expertise–as evidenced by the $20k gig on this subject–in divining the alien ways of Washington. Surely, it is time for her to reveal the existence of this unknown, and stoutly denied, alien force that inhabits Washington.

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  6. Steveguy says:

    For one thing, it will never be built, and the second thing is this :

    ” Goodwin said the project sponsor must find a public agency co-sponsor for the project, such as the Sonoma County Water Agency or the Golden Gate Transit District.”

    Excuse me, but did he just say that the Water Agency can run a ferry ? I thought that turning over our energy use to them is a big stretch, but ferries too ? oh my

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