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Is the Northern End still in consideration for reopening service to Eureka?

I was wondering if service would ever return to the northern end of the railroad, as they have returned to the southern portion of the line. I know it would take a lot of cash and a lot of repair work, but could it be done? I think it could be done. I would like to see trains running north again, even if it is in the distant future. 

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Comment by Chad Glover on March 9, 2017 at 2:09pm
Dave, do you have any specifics as to why it was voted down? Bummer as I thought this would be a go
Comment by Dave S. on March 9, 2017 at 1:34pm

"Maybe build an oil refinery or a coal transloading facility because the folks up in Washington and Oregon are tired of all the coal dust being dumped by the carloads along their rivers and coast."

SRB:  haven't you answered your own question already?

A refinery?  Yeah, that will fly.  Even desalination plants are opposed in lower parts of the state where water has been scarce.

Radical environmentalists in this state will even block the construction of a baby formula factory, throwing out words like "hazardous", "toxic", and "cancer causing" without the slightest sliver of evidence.  So there will be no "toxic" tanker trains of Similac on the NWP either.

Shrill screams and political intimidation from these people just this week managed to kill a Green Cement factory slated for an industrial site in Vallejo:

This factory was planning on running 100 car trains daily on the CFNR, then was forced to reduce to multiple 50 car trains, but the project was killed Monday night by people who's only job it seems is to show up at meetings and protest every form of taxpaying economic development except residential artist lofts.

To these people all industry is bad and all business is evil.  These radicals even want all dairy farms out of west Marin so they can have Point Reyes for themselves.  Unfortunately, these people have all the time in the world to do battle for these selfish NIBY causes while the rest of us are out earning.  it's gone way too far.

(OrCem is considering an appeal of the Planning Commission decision that ran 6 to 1 against them.  I wish them luck.)

Comment by Chad Glover on March 9, 2017 at 1:26pm
Humboldt is the closest port to the Far East but because of its poor rail connection any advantage gained in a day of sea travel is eaten up in a day or more of rail travel just to get to Roseville. That's why the talk of the east/west connection to Red Bluff. It would make Humboldt more attractive to shippers. The ports of Washington, Oakland and SoCal will need to reach capacity before anything happens at Humboldt
Comment by Bob Cleek on March 9, 2017 at 1:10pm

From what I hear, the most promising motivation to reopen the line would be a container terminal at the Port of Eureka.  There may not be sufficient need for that as yet, and perhaps less of a need if imports are going to be taxed 20% more as (ahem...) the "current administration" has "promised."  "Double stacked" containers, however, will likely require enlarging the tunnel clearances which will add additional costs.  That said, the northern end of the line was engineered and built in 1914 and repaired piecemeal since then.  Were the line rebuilt using existing engineering technology, a lot of the geological issues could likely be resolved.  Aggregate is another significant cargo that can be carried if the Island Mountain Quarry begins operating again.  At present, aggregate is brought in from British Columbia by ship, off loaded at Richmond, reloaded on barges, and towed up the Petaluma River to Dutra's plant.  We just don't have enough for the needs of Northern California.  I don't think the environmentalists have any say as far as the railroad goes, given the FAA's federal preemption of those issues and the ROW is already there.  Local government may be susceptible to pressure as far as reopening the quarry goes, though.  At this point, however, the quarry industry has the environmental issues pretty well covered without a trace.  They leave their quarry sites completely restored when they are done.  (As did Dutra with their Petaluma quarry, which is not covered with expensive housing.)  I've been told by an engineer intimately involved in the issue that the ROW could easily be restored to current standards addressing the geological issues if there were sufficient funds committed to the project (and for considerably less than the scare-tactic cost estimates some claim,) but that there has to be the traffic to justify it.  It's the old "chicken or the egg" thing.  Some say "Build it and they will come." and others say "It's impossible."  Now, if the present political climate were tapped and they could get some sort of defense-related industry up there, perhaps a Navy pre-positioned supply center at the Port of Humboldt or something like that, "The Eagle would crap," and the rail connection would be built pronto with federal money!  There's nothing like a war to get things done.  I used to think, "Naw, it'll never happen."  Now I'm not so sure.  Humboldt is about as close as you can get to Korea by ship via the Great Circle route.

Comment by steven richard bell on March 9, 2017 at 11:21am

What about my proposals below? Coal terminal, Refinery and scrap yard to avoid empty car movements?  By the time the line could be restored, the refinery, coal dock and scrap yard could be operational. 

Comment by Emilio Galo on March 9, 2017 at 10:38am

Richard, I agree with you on the Skunk Train needing a connection. I feel that if the washout at Laughlin were fixed, they could then operate trains south to Ukiah (Possibly freight?), and that would help CWR with future operations.

Comment by Emilio Galo on March 9, 2017 at 10:36am

Thank you all for the information. It would be interesting to see gravel cars on the gauntlet tracks, as well as the line being reopened to Island Mountain. I know there is at least one lumber/timber customer still left in Eureka, they have stuff littered all over the tracks. 

Comment by Chad Glover on March 9, 2017 at 10:14am

How about watching 100 gravel car trains running through all the gauntlet tracks from Cloverdale to Novato?  would be interesting to see what power would be used.  They would be limited to light weight power so taking them over Ridgeview in blocks and rebuilt in Ukiah.  Bring back the SD9's, of course they would be 100yrs old by the time anything happened.

Comment by Dave S. on March 9, 2017 at 6:09am

There was also a serious plan to reopen the line at least as far as Island Mountain to quarry gravel.  An unnamed entity supposedly would have paid to completely rehabilitate the line at least as far as Island Mountain if they could operate a quarry, in an environmentally friendly way.  (Didn't think gravel could be that valuable.)  Militant environmentalism killed it.  I believe their websites are still up protesting this idea or any railroad use through the Canyon, which they claim for themselves.

Richard:  trucks do pay huge fees to offset the damage they do to highways, but I don't know if they are paying enough.  I'm sure the big railroads, which must pay property taxes, make this a recurring argument to government.  However, as a motorist I'm forever astonished as to why the constant, thick, stream of trucks on many Bay Area highways couldn't be shunted to rail.

What the State does with the fees it collects is a mystery too.  Simple things like highway drainage, lighting, and potholes are almost never addressed in a timely manner.

BTW, to clarify a point made yesterday:  since the NCRA, as public entity, "owns" the whole route, property taxes don't become an issue unless the line becomes privatized again.

I agree that there's plenty of timber to harvest, but there's only one or two sawmills left.  I'm optimistic that the line will eventually reach Willits, but that's a big leap.  Roughly 80 miles of rebuilding, including approx. 7 major bridges, and 5 tunnels.

Comment by steven richard bell on March 8, 2017 at 10:55pm

Aside from timber/lumber.what industry does the Northcoast have.? Marijuana does'n't count in terms of volume of freight. Maybe build an oil refinery or a coal transloading facility because the folks up in Washington and Oregon are tired of all the coal dust being dumped by the carloads along their rivers and coast.  Building either or both wood (forest pun) add jobs ( not Sreve) to the Humbolt area economy and would add tonnage of freight northbound. Empty rail cars could be scrapped there as well and the scrap steel could be exported to China or Japan.   Thank You, SRB

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