NORTH COAST RAILROAD AUTHORITY
419 Talmage Road Suite M
Ukiah, Ca 95482
510-915-2656 Executive Director Cellular
Mitch Stogner, Executive
Hemphill, NCRA Chairman
CTC Approves Rail Repair Funds
On November 9, the California
Transportation Commission (CTC) approved the North Coast Railroad Authority’s (NCRA)
request for $43.2 in state and federal funds to initiate repairs on 142 miles of
trackway between Lombard (South of Napa) and Willits. The CTC also approved $3.9 million to initiate environmental review of the Eel
River Canyon North of Willits, and allocated $3.5 million to begin the
engineering phase of the restoration work between Lombard and Willits.
NCRA’s Chairman, Allan
Hemphill, said that the repairs, which were approved by the CTC at its November meeting in Jackson, will include trackwork, bridges, and replacement of
53 crossing signals on the first 62 miles between Lombard and Windsor, with the
work between Windsor and Willits to follow.
He said that the restoration work would be underway throughout 2007,
with the goal of operations between Lombard and Windsor in early 2008. “CTC’s approval of our funding request is a major endorsement by the State
of NCRA’s goal to restore the entire railroad. Southern-end shippers, between Lombard to Windsor, will be the first to take advantage of the resumption
of rail service, but ultimately shippers up and down the line and North Coast residents will benefit from the energy savings and
the reduction of truck traffic on Hwy 101.”
Fourth District Sonoma County
Supervisor Paul Kelley, who sits on the NCRA Board of Directors, said that the CTC action frees-up enough money to repair the track from the national
rail interchange (Lombard) to Windsor and North to Willits, “but that we will
need Proposition 1B Bond funds to complete the job all the way to the Port of
Humboldt Bay.” Kelley said that NCRA
will apply for bond funds under a special category designated for freight rail
projects to improve goods movement from seaports.
Hemphill and Kelley both said
that the resumption of service will begin in Sonoma County, with Mendocino and Humboldt Counties to follow.
“Our job is not done until
trains are running the entire 316 miles from the connection to the national
rail system East of Novato all the way North to Humboldt Bay,” said Hemphill.
John Williams, CEO for NWP
Co., NCRA’s newly established contract operator, presented his Business Plan to
the CTC which was also approved at the November 9
meeting. Williams said that he is
prepared to begin shipping feed grains, wood products, building materials, and
municipal solid waste as soon as the line is repaired and certified for service
by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).
The North Coast Railroad Authority
(NCRA) was formed in 1989 by the California Legislature under the
North Coast Railroad Authority Act, Government Code Section 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.