Healdsburg’s City Council is urging rail officials to allow an unused railroad bridge over the Russian River to be employed as a temporary bicycle and pedestrian crossing, but the possible resumption of freight train service may derail the proposal.
Two conservation groups are suing the North Coast Railroad Authority, contending its environmental impact reports do not address the impacts of rail reconstruction.
Freight trains could roll on the Northwestern Pacific Railroad in Sonoma, Marin and Napa counties on Wednesday after the Novato City Council late Tuesday agreed to revise a legal settlement that sets guidelines for trains running through the city. The vote paves the way for NWP Co. to start running freight trains on three round trips a week.
The planned return of freight trains to Sonoma County next week will be delayed after a Humboldt County environmental group threatened legal action to stop the service by the Northwestern Pacific Railroad.
For those trying to expose waste, fraud and abuse in government, the path can be torturous. Whistleblowers must contact one agency after another, and in the process, they can lose both their anonymity and faith in any follow up. The Sonoma County grand jury reached those conclusions after months of studying the issue. The panel is now calling for a change.
North Coast Railroad Authority and the city of Novato have reached a tentative deal on the return of freight service in Sonoma, Marin and Napa counties. The rail authority wants to start train service between between Napa County and Windsor next month, but other hurdles remain.
North Coast Railroad Authority directors said the timing is not right to seek proposals to turn a mothballed section of the freight line through the scenic Eel River Canyon into a trail for bikers, hikers and horseback riders. There are significant legal, financial, engineering and environmental hurdles the project must overcome.
The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit agency is facing a $104 million funding gap – and it could grow to $140 million if sales tax revenues remain depressed and ridership falls short. The SMART board will meet today to review the revenue projections and consider $106 million in cost savings, including a plan to shrink an adjacent bike path by two-thirds.
After being derailed for 12 years, freight trains could begin rumbling through Santa Rosa by next month. Various city departments are preparing to reach out to the community to make sure that homeless people, pedestrians and motorists are aware the trains are returning — and to take precautions.
U.S. transportation regulators have ruled that the North Coast Railroad Authority doesn’t need approval from the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit to reopen the freight line. But NCRA still must resolve any disputes with SMART before freight trains can operate in the North Bay.