Friday, June 09, 2006

Railroads vs. Environmentalists

Maybe I'm reading the story wrong but I was struck by what appears to be another potential industry vs. environmentalist battle.

There's been more talk in the news lately about getting the rail lines up and running again. It seems to me, many of the proponents of re- opening the rail line tend to be environmental types. In this case, looks like they might conflict with the most viable proposal for the rail line to date.

The North Coast Journal reports on the most recent efforts to get the rail line going which involve natural resource extraction - gravel mining being one mentioned- coupled with increased shipping through Humboldt Bay. This would supposedly make re- opening the rail line economically viable. I might well agree, despite having gone on record as being an extreme skeptic of re- opening the rail line.

Leave it to none other than Maggie Herbelin to re- enforce my skepticism. To quote both the story and Herbelin with my own comment interjected:

Herbelin said that not enough thought or discussion had gone into the question of whether or not a greatly ramped-up shipping industry would really be in the county's best interests. She cited pollution, noise, light and the traffic congestion from 20 trains per day [Odd that many environmentalists favor rail as a way to ease traffic congestion- Fred] as questions that needed to be studied in greater depth before the county and the Port of Humboldt commit to a plan.

"I'm skeptical — I'll put it that way — that this is the direction we want to go in," she said. "And that's the thing I think needs to be raised. With the Marina Center being proposed, I'm wondering whether we want that much industry on the bay. I'm kind of wondering — what are we looking at here? Do we want to pile industry on top of our housing?"

No, we'd rather have a seafood culinary institute on the bay, right?

Her point is actually well made in that any sort of industry is going to have an effect on both the city and the bay. That comes with the territory. But she does allow me to maintain my skepticism about any chance of the railroad becoming a viable effort.

The railroad might well have a chance of becoming a economic asset under the proposals being made, but not with the current political climate in the county. The environmentalist camp won't let it happen.


At 10:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice spam.

anyways the gravel mine is in trinity co so all the hum whining will do no good if they just want to open up service that far north. it'd be a real shame to have to drive to willits to catch a train.

At 11:16 AM, Blogger Bitxxx said...

The Harbor District and the NCRA commissioned a study in 2003 on the feasibility of the railroad coming to Humboldt Bay. The findings where not good. It would take a fairly signiicant amount of container cargo from China headed for the rest of the US to move through Humboldt Bay and on to Oakland by rail to make the line profitable in maybe 25 years. It will cost $100 million to open the rail north of Willits.

The more likely scenario is to get it as far as Ilsand Mountain to carry the gravel from the Eel to southern CA.

As for passenger service it is even more unlikely at least from Humboldt. There just isn't the potential for a significant enough number of passengers. You have to remember this is the end of the line.

In addition the communter train project (SMART) in Marin is going along as planned. It will run on the same tracks and require that freight service operate outside a 2 hour window of the communter trains.

If the Harbor District can find the maybe half million bucks (they are some $2 million in debt) to build the infrastructure to handle the container shipping they might have a chance of getting state and federal funds to finish the north end of the rail. But it is the chicken and the egg. The Harbor District believes that at least 1000 containers would need to move through Humboldt Bay each day to make it work.

At 11:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where's Paul?

At 12:21 PM, Blogger Bitxxx said...

Standing next to Babe up in Klamath.

At 6:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh, that's why he's not in the office woodenhead

At 12:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wednesday - Where's Paul?
Thursday - Where's Paul?
Friday - Where's Paul?

Waldo's easier to find.

At 8:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul is smoking dope with his buddies and drinking until he falls down. No big suprise.

At 9:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apparently he finally showed up on Monday.

At 1:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rail would solve many problems with our travel problems, goods and public in the future.

At 2:44 PM, Blogger Bitxxx said...

What problems would rail solve?


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