Northwestern Pacific Railroad Network

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Went up to Healdsberg this week for business but then stopped to review NWP RoW status. The new President of NWP Co told me in so many words last month this bridge is sound. Looks like that to me and to have the RoW reopened into Healdsberg and past would be a huge benefit to get heavy trucks off of 101.
But in looking south across the bridge I saw this HUGE pile of old probably fire debris concrete sitting on the south side of that bridge right on the old NWP RoW even bigger than the pile in Windsor. I plan to bring up this overloaded truck vs rail issue at the next SMART board meeting next week and I need some support.
Mike Cook are you still monitoring???

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Question: How exactly would reopening the railroad to Healdsburg get any trucks off 101?  What significant traffic source exists there for which rail is a competitive option?

Jeff Moore

Elko, NV


Richard Steingruber answered your question in his "status" before I could get to my PC.  In the picture posted here is of the HUGE rock (detritus) pile hauled up to Syar by many heavy trucks.  Syar is the "significant source" to which I refer and also ships aggregate and other riverbed materials out onto Hiway 101 via trucks as Richard writes.

While this area is technically called Bailhache it within the domain and south of Healdsburg right on the river.  There is a existing spur into the Syar property which could be/have been used if the NWP RoW was allowed to be upgraded for freight.

Jeff it appears you live in Nevada so you don't see all of these 18 wheeled 45 long trailers driving north and south on our hiway, many of them overloaded as can been seen by observing their tires.  

Since moving here I have found the roads in Sonoma Cty to be very rough and "beat up".  I met a guy who works for the county in the public works div.  He told me that because 1) there is no weigh station in the county on 101 and 2) the CHP is understaffed, the heavy trucks routinely are over weight limits leading to the poor condition of the roads.

This years heavy rains have not helped either. 


I see the spur going into the property, indicating there was rail service at one point in time.  And yes, it is true I live in Nevada, but it's also true that I once lived in the Eureka region and used to regularly drive the 101 corridor, and still do from time to time.   

I do want to emphasize that I'm not questioning that truck traffic is having a major impact on highways.  That's not a unique problem to the Marin and Sonoma Counties areas.  What I am questioning is how much of a difference in that truck traffic a reopened NWP could possibly make.  Potential customers are not going to jump over to rail service just because it's there, or just because they have a switch and spur reaching into the property.  I'm all for rail service, but at the same time I'm a realist about the issue.  Industries are only going to ship by rail when the economics and service work in rail's favor as compared to other transportation options, and conversely the railroad is only going to go after whatever traffic it can make money handling.  If Syar is delivering aggregates to a strictly local market, that movement is extremely unlikely to move by rail.  Any "new" traffic that requires cooperation from Union Pacific faces many obstacles from that end, in as much as UP is showing no interest or motivation to help connecting shortlines develop new traffic, especially loose carload traffic.   

Now, we could have a whole discussion about trucks not paying their fair share for damage inflicted to public highways and the general subsidies and other imbalances that tend to favor trucks over trains, but in the end those conversations are more societal in nature and are unlikely to be changed anytime in the near future.  Given the present circumstances, I'd rate the chances of NWP diverting any significant traffic away from trucks as slim at best.

I'd love to be proved wrong!

Jeff Moore

Elko, NV     

Syar no longer mines rock from the Russian River. All of the aggregate you see at the site is trucked in. 

Any idea from where they are trucking the material?

Appears from the black marks to be the remnants of properties like Coffey Park and Mark West etc destroyed in the 2017 fires.  All well documented as containing many known if not dangerous toxic and contaminating chemicals.  

Now that this is also my river running near my property, this detritus should not be hauled to this site immediately next to this important river which provides water to so much of Sonoma County.   With all of the heavy rains we have had, the runoff from that pile has to be entering the ground water and into the stream.

This material needs to hauled by train to a toxic waste site just like the materials that have been removed from SF Hunters Point by the Dirt Train.


Jeff,  not sure where it comes from now.  There's a barge unload facility south of Haystack bridge that supposedly wants a spur.  Gravel mining on the Russian ended years ago but as a kid my dad would take us to watch the huge trucks taking the rock from the pits south of healdsburg up the river on a very wide road to that site. There is still a large bucket crane near where a Dry Creek empties into the Russian (visible on google earth ). That pile of debris from the fires will be recycled and used for future projects. There's still a large pile in Windsor too.  


Can you provide any proof to confirm that those debris came from the 2017 fire excavations like PD picts etc?  I'll let you know why I need this soon.

Also today I took some picts of the Larkspur extension work just south of the San Rafael station and will post when I have the time. 

I also captured some amazing and laughable video of a SMART MoW hirailer drivers efforts at the San Rafael switch.  All I can say right now, is SMART really in the 21st Century?

I don't have any proof of it but where else would a pile of debris like that come from? 

As far as just healdsberg goes the only potential  customers I can imagine would be sayer and maybe capital lumber. Other that that there isn’t much 

Town of Windsor Extension Project

The SMART Board of Directors recently launched the next phase of construction work to extend commuter service to the Town of Windsor, by authorizing the expenditiure of $24 million to begin rail safety upgrades and design work needed to expand the rail line north by 3 miles from the current northbound terminal near the Sonoma County Airport. Heavy construction work estimated to begin in 2020 and systems testing is expected to begin in 2021.

There's a new developememt in the planning stages for the old lumber mill site south of the new train station and with in walking distance. Will be a pretty large development along with the planned apartments next to the new Olivers there should be a few people using SMART by the time it's done


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