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.
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 Act was intended to ensure continuation of railroad
service in Northwestern California and envisioned the railroad
playing a significant role in the transportation infrastructure
serving a vital part of the State that suffers from restricted
access and limited transport options.
In 1992, the State purchased the railroad line from Willits
north. In 1995, a separate transaction added the railroad line from
Healdsburg north to the NCRA's holdings and provided for a joint
powers authority, the Northwestern Pacific Railroad Authority (NWPRA)
to own the right of way from Healdsburg south to Schellville in
Sonoma County, where the railroad then feeds a 12-mile shortline
through Napa County which connects to the Union Pacific mainline at
Fairfield-Suisun in Solano County.
legislation setting up the NCRA clearly articulated the mandate and
intent of the State. A
companion bill, which was passed by a bipartisan vote of both houses
of the California legislature would have provided funds to execute
the mandate, to preserve and improve the asset, and to fund the
NCRA's administrative responsibilities. Unfortunately, that bill was vetoed by Governor Deukmejian.
The fact that the NCRA and its railroad, the Northwestern
Pacific, have survived to date under the contradiction of a mandate
without funding is not only a miracle but testimony to the
tremendous dedication and sacrifices of the people involved with the
railroad since its inception. It
has had continued support from elected legislators representing the
its inception, the NCRA has been confronted with three substantial
challenges: (1) to
establish a public-private partnership whereby the NCRA would have
policy and oversight authority, while the railroad itself would be
operated by a qualified and experienced private entity; (2) to
operate an ongoing railroad enterprise without start-up operating
capital on a right-of way that had suffered from years of deferred
maintenance; and (3) to obtain Federal and State funds to repair the
right-of-way, as a result of both deferred maintenance and
consecutive years of weather-related disasters, so as to allow the
railroad operation to be viable for the long-term future.
Against all odds and overcoming mistakes made in the past, the NCRA and the New Northwestern Pacific Railroad are now on the verge of meeting all three challenges outlined above. Although the NCRA has already met and overcome the first two of three challenges (established a public private-partnership and begun operating the railroad without any operating subsidy from the State), the third challenge will require the public funding to achieve.
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