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Letters: NIMBY Novato vs. NCRA freight trains, SMART

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  • 10/18 Marin IJ
    Published Thursday, October 18, 2007, by the Marin Independent Journal Letters to the Editor Rail official scolds Novato In filing its lawsuit against the
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 24, 2007
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      Published Thursday, October 18, 2007, by the Marin Independent Journal

      Letters to the Editor

      Rail official scolds Novato

      In filing its lawsuit against the North Coast Railroad Authority,
      Novato is shamelessly abusing California environmental law in a
      vain attempt to stop the return of trains to the North Coast.

      California environmental law permits in-kind repairs to an existing
      facility without a lengthy environmental review process. NCRA finally
      has started the repairs on 62 miles (Lombard-Novato-Windsor) with
      the approval and financial support of the California Transportation
      Commission, Caltrans and all the other cities, counties and
      transportation agencies on the North Coast. Novato's lawsuit is
      hypocrisy at its best from a city that claims to want to reduce its
      carbon footprint.

      How does its claim of environmental sensitivity square with Novato's
      determination to kill a regional railroad that will take big rigs
      off Highway 101, reduce greenhouse gas emissions -- when compared to
      trucks -- by 80 percent and is four times more fuel efficient than
      trucks?

      Novato ignores these environmental benefits in favor of a bogus
      lawsuit that attempts to halt all repairs to an existing freight line
      that has operated for more than 100 years. The city of Novato stands
      alone in its opposition to the resumption of train service in our
      region. By invoking Machiavelli's theory that the ends justify the
      means, the city has engaged in a legal wild goose chase that will
      waste taxpayer dollars and benefit no one. I am confident that when
      the facts are known, this lawsuit will be relegated to the trash can
      where it belongs.

      Allan Hemphill
      Chairman, North Coast Railroad Authority
      Cloverdale

      More buses trump the train

      The city of Novato has recently sued the North Coast Railroad
      Authority. The reason cited by Daniel Keen is the environmental
      impact on the many new homes, offices and businesses located near
      the tracks.

      Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit, although not sued, will surely
      create a similar environmental impact, albeit reduced by using newer
      engines. Despite the potential environmental impact of SMART and the
      escalating cost of a project that will be completed years from now
      (not taking into account the inevitable time and budget overruns),
      many people still support this wasteful idea.

      A few weeks ago, we read about the plans to expand Highway 101 for
      the insignificant cost of $750 million in a project that will take
      at least 10 years to complete.

      Isn't it time for people to come to their senses and to explore a
      simpler and speedier way to resolve the traffic problem on Highway
      101? Isn't it time to consider using all that money to develop or
      rather expand the public transportation service by adding a fleet of
      gas/electric powered buses?

      A large fleet of gas/hybrid/electric buses available for high-
      frequency service can be made available on relatively short notice.
      Such a service is more flexible than the proposed train and the
      service maps and frequency can be rapidly adapted to changing
      population needs. Such buses, available today, have a low environment
      impact and can greatly alleviate traffic problems on Highway 101.

      Reuven Segev
      San Rafael


      Questions for rail authority

      The North Coast Railroad Authority failed to comply with
      environmental rules and bypassed state open-meeting laws as Novato's
      lawsuit states. If the NCRA were to do a comprehensive environmental
      review, then maybe we would have more facts. This review is necessary
      so that we know what this authority is up to.

      How many trains does it plan to run each day and how long would they
      be? Will these trains be short enough to fit on the proposed "passing
      sihdings" so that they can run some of them during the day and not
      disrupt Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit trains? What would be the
      times that trains would operate -- with or without SMART?

      These are just some of my questions. I am sure others have more. NCRA
      should step into the light and put all its cards on the table. NCRA
      should remember that the right of way belongs to the people and we
      have the right to know what's happening on our land.

      Who benefits if Novato loses? The North Coast Railroad Authority and
      the heavy rail lobby.

      Pat O'Doul
      Novato
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