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SMART addresses vegetation problem on large non-revenue property in Corte Madera

  If you look in the SMART Managers Report of May 2019, page 17. Under the Title of Maintenance Of Way. The manager makes mention of two large non-revenue properties. One is in Healdsburg and the other is right here in Corte Madera.

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Does this mean that SMART is considering starting the construction on the northern portion to Cloverdale?

It seems the as soon as the extension to Larkspur is done. SMART wants the same crew to move to North Santa Rosa and keep building as far north as funds will allow. Eventually all the way to Cloverdale.

Here's the SMART report Richard mentioned.

I don't think the mention of vegetation control on two non-revenue producing properties can in any way be tied into pending northward extensions.  It sounds to me far more like either nuisance abatement or prevention type of work. 

If you scroll through the rest of the report to which Jennifer provided the link (thank you, that was fascinating), you'll see Page 14 speaks to the Windsor extension, specifically that preliminary engineering is nearly complete and that SMART anticipated submitting environmental permit applications at the end of May.  I take this to mean they are still a long, long ways away from doing any actual work on that extension.  Second, the media report on Page 8 includes references to several headlines from mid-May indicating SMART will be seeking up to $364 million to get to Healdsburg and Cloverdale. 

It's going to be a while. 

Jeff Moore

Elko, NV

Emilio:

As to the buildout to Cloverdale don't hold your breath.  Not only is that a good distance but the RoW up to there crosses many high-end wineries entrances and those properties are not excited about having to pay for an ATC linked crossing guard needing to be installed at their entrance again at thier expense.  I know this because I have had one of my customers explain this to me.

But Windsor is another case.  Last year's SMART BoD President was the Mayor of Windsor and she is 120% committed to having SMART run into her city.  That will happen as soon as they finish Larkspur.

Richard 

Mark:  Sorry to have abandoned you down in the Valley but we sold our Birthplace of Silicon Valley house to an exec of NVidia and love being up here in the north.  And of course thanks for keeping the train on track.

Thanks for the information Richard. I did not know that about Windsor, if only certain mayors up north in some certain county were feeling the same way about a possible commuter train. Possibly  Eureka down to Fortuna?

Emilio:

I seem to remember than you reside outside of California.  As our NCRA stated last week, their right of way running from Eureka to Lombard is classified as a "local railroad" line.  The NWP freight portion of the RoW is a privately held company. 

SMART on the other hand is publicly financed by the tax payer of Sonoma and Marin County.  Neither Hopland nor for that matter Napa and the connection to Amtrak are located in these two counties.  SMART running to either of these areas are not even a pipe dream UNLESS the state of California or the Feds will pick up the tab.  With all due respect it is not a "mayors up north" question. 

Are you willing to provide a portion of your Federal taxes to fund these connections?  This is the state of the SMART problem today and in the future.

Richard

Isn't the ROW north of Healdsburg owned by NCRA, a public agency?  If so, then taxpayer money is justified in upgrading the tracks and other facilities.  NWP is the company that runs the railroad, but they do not own the ROW.  They simply would run their trains on it.  The tracks and other facilities are owned by NCRA.

I agree that SMART has no basis or justification for entering Napa or Mendocino counties.  While I'm all for expanded rail service to those counties, the voters of those counties would need to agree to pay taxes toward the SMART system.  They are not currently included, and thus should not receive the benefits of SMART.

Just my 2-cents worth.

--James

:-)  You're most welcome, Jeff!

 My only point was a rail connection to Corte Madera could be a real possibility down the road. If the land is there and the bridge over the creek is solid. Then the remaining doubt is whether the voters of Corte Madera have the ba... to ask for it. Engineers can do amazing things when so challenged. Even the bicycle ramp could be mitigated.

 Thanks Jennifer, for the link to the report.

Richard S.

Responses to Richard and Emilio:

First off, to Richard.  You say "As our NCRA stated last week, their right of way running from Eureka to Lombard is classified as a "local railroad" line. The NWP freight portion of the RoW is a privately held company...SMART on the other hand is publicly financed by the tax payer of Sonoma and Marin County. Neither Hopland nor for that matter Napa and the connection to Amtrak are located in these two counties. SMART running to either of these areas are not even a pipe dream UNLESS the state of California or the Feds will pick up the tab. With all due respect it is not a "mayors up north" question."

I'm having trouble following your logic here, but you seem to be overlooking that the entire former NWP right-of-way is owned by the California taxpaying public in one way or another.  SMART owns the line from Lombard to Healdsburg, NCRA owns the rest of the line north of Healdsburg.  NCRA retained a permanent freight easement over the line now owned by SMART, and the present private NWP freight operations use this easement under arrangement with NCRA.  As has been discussed here before, the NWP company is not required to pay rent for its use of the railroad until such time as its revenues exceed a certain threshold, which it is in no danger of crossing.  That being said, NWP has fronted a large pile of money to NCRA through the years.  And you are absolutely correct in that the state and federal governments will have to pick up the tab for any expansions of commuter rail service. 

Second, to Emilio...commuter rail is an awful lot like freight rail, in as much as you need enough volume in whatever corridor you are trying to serve to justify the service.  Caltrans has available through their website various metrics on traffic volumes up through 2017 for each of the state's highways.  I looked at Highway 101 data, which provides some interesting numbers.  The section of Highway 101 between Larkspur and Santa Rosa- the SMART corridor- has annual average daily traffic counts (total vehicles over the counters in a year divided by 365) ranging from 93,500-209,000 cars, with peak hour volumes ranging from 7,700-16,800 cars (defined as the busiest average 60-minute period of time).  It will be interesting in a couple years to go back through some of these numbers to see how much of a difference SMART is making.  For comparative purposes, the same highway between Fortuna and the south end of Eureka has annual average daily traffic counts of 18,100-27,700 cars, with peak hour values of 2,000-2,900 cars except for Loleta Drive, which has a daily volume of 4,300 cars.  Arguably the busiest stretch of Highway 101 north of Santa Rosa is the seven miles between Eureka and Arcata, and its average daily traffic counts are 34,300-36,800 cars (peak hour 3,900-4,300).  Simply put, it's hard to see much justification for any sort of commuter rail operations outside of maybe the Arcata to Eureka corridor, and the local transportation agencies already have a healthy bus service covering that corridor.  

Jeff Moore

Elko, NV

 

 

Jeff:

I follow what you are commenting to Emilio but I too fail to follow your logic.  You write: "...be overlooking that the entire former NWP right-of-way is owned by the California taxpaying public in one way or another."

Yes we taxpayers in your neighbor state of Calif pay for many services but it does not entail that we tax paying public have ownership of state properties.  NCRA has the legal title of what we speak of as the NWP right of way with full title south to somewhere I have yet to find in Healdsburg.  I've also come to learn from attending the SMART BoD meetings that SMART and NCRA are per SMART GM Mansouian, partners in the ownership of the line to Lombard.

I suggest you review the SMART BoD meeting videos to follow who is the owner.

Richard

    

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