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NIMBY Novato sues NCRA to derail planned freight trains

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  • 9/30 Santa Rosa Press
    Published Sunday, September 30, 2007, by the Santa Rosa Press Democrat Novato sues railroad authority Officials go to court seeking to stop plans for $26
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 1, 2007
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      Published Sunday, September 30, 2007, by the Santa Rosa Press Democrat

      Novato sues railroad authority

      Officials go to court seeking to stop plans for $26 million upgrade,
      freight service

      By Clark Mason
      The Press Democrat

      Novato officials are going to court to try and derail plans for
      freight train service planned for the North Coast that would go
      through their town.

      The city filed a lawsuit Friday in Marin Superior Court against the
      North Coast Railroad Authority, claiming a lack of environmental
      studies for planned upgrades to the rail line.

      Novato says a more comprehensive environmental study is needed before
      $26 million in repairs are made to a 62-mile stretch of rail from
      Lombard, east of Novato, to Windsor.

      The North Coast Railroad Authority was planning to resume freight
      service on the stretch south of Windsor by next summer, said NCRA
      executive director Mitch Stogner.

      "Caltrans, the California Transportation Commission, North Coast
      cities and counties and transportation agencies all want to restart
      rail service. Novato clearly does not," Stogner said Saturday.

      Novato has been unhappy with the NCRA since it disclosed plans to
      bring back as many as 36 trains per week pulling up to 60 cars each.

      There are six crossings in Novato, and the city is seeking to
      invalidate contracts with the companies involved in upgrading the

      Novato claims NCRA's plans failed to adequately consider safety,
      traffic, noise, and other factors associated with frequent freight

      The agency has plans to use the old Northwestern Pacific Railroad
      tracks from Willits, initially bringing garbage through Sonoma County
      and Novato to Highway 37, before the trains head east to Napa County.

      Stogner said the NCRA and other state agencies agreed that
      comprehensive environmental studies were not required to upgrade
      crossings, signals and make other improvements to an already existing

      The lawsuit does not affect plans to bring back passenger service on
      the same rail line, according to Chris Coursey, a spokesman for the
      Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit agency.

      "The NCRA and SMART are two different agencies doing two different
      things, going through two different environmental processes," he said.

      But Coursey said SMART is updating its environmental studies to
      reflect the recently announced higher level of freight service.

      SMART is aiming to put a measure on the November, 2008 ballot to
      resume passenger rail service from Cloverdale to Larkspur, similar
      to a ballot proposal that was narrowly defeated in 2006.

      You can reach Staff Writer Clark Mason at 707-521-5214 or

      [BATN: See also:

      Novato sues to derail NCRA plan to resume freight train service

      Column: Long-dead NCRA's freight plans complicate SMART EIR

      SMART to update EIR; re-vote planned for November 2008

      Comment: SMART or not -- freight trains coming to Novato

      Comment: SMART foes work to whip up freight train fears

      Opponents using NCRA freight projections to delay, kill SMART

      Freight tail of moribund NCRA seeks to wag SMART dog

      February '08 SMART re-vote unlikely due to freight study request
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/35492 ]
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