North Coast Railroad Authority
419 Talmage Road Suite M
Ukiah, CA 95482
707 463-3280 Phone
707 463-3282 Fax
Mitch Stogner, Executive Director John Woolley, NCRA Chair
www.northcoastrailroad.org (707) 476-2393
UKIAH January 20, 2005 – The North Coast Railroad Authority (NCRA) has unanimously reappointed Humboldt County Supervisor John Woolley to be its Chairman for 2005.
At its board meeting in Willits Wednesday, the rail authority, which manages 316 miles of the old Northwestern Pacific (NWP) line between Eureka and the national rail interchange near Napa, also agreed to a spending plan for a $7.9 million federal grant awarded in November.
The funds will be spent to fix two rail swing bridges that span the Petaluma River in Sonoma County, replace crossing signals from Willits to the railroad’s Southern terminus near Napa, and acquire rolling stock.
“The first step is to open the South End between Willits and the national rail interchange near Napa. This grant will help to make that possible,” said Woolley. “Our ultimate goal is to open the entire line from the Port of Humboldt Bay, down to Novato, and East to Napa where freight can be picked up by the Union Pacific and delivered throughout the United States.”
The grant funds come from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for storm damage dating back to the El Nino storms of 1998. The railroad has been out of service since that time.
“With this grant, we can repair the Haystack Landing Bridge, the Black Point Bridge, and all the crossing signals on the South End of the line,” said Woolley. “Passage of the federal transportation bill this spring should give us the balance of the funding needed to restore rail service between Willits and Lombard,” continued Woolley.
Congressman Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) sponsored a provision in the TEA 21 transportation reauthorization bill that designates NCRA as the recipient of $8.6 million. Although the measure stalled last year, it is expected to be enacted this year along with the funds for the NCRA.
“Although it’s been extremely frustrating at times, the NCRA Board will not give up on this railroad,” said Woolley. “Our goal is a railroad that will deliver containers from the deep water port of Humboldt Bay to the national rail interchange, and throughout the United States.” Woolley continued, “ The restoration of rail service on the North Coast is an economic imperative for our region.”
NCRA’s Strategic Plan presented to the California Transportation Commission (CTC) in October, calls for the reopening of the Southern 142 miles of the line first, utilizing the FEMA grant and funds from the federal transportation bill. Work in the Eel River Canyon will follow with the eventual release of some $42 million in State Traffic Congestion Relief Program (TCRP) funding already earmarked for the NCRA.
The North Coast Railroad Authority (NCRA) was formed in 1989 by the California Legislature under the North Coast Railroad Authority Act, Government Code Sections 93000, et seq . The Mission of the North Coast Railroad Authority is to provide a unified & revitalized rail infrastructure meeting the freight and passenger needs of the region; a first class service working in partnership with others to build and sustain the economy of the region.