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Associated Press
Ahead of the Bell: Railroad shipments slowing
Associated Press, 12.12.08, 09:22 AM EST

 A Goldman Sachs analyst on Friday predicted that North American railroad shipments will continue to slow in 2009, and said historically high shipping prices may not be enough to balance out the shortfall.

 

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“We are actually on the front end of a long-term structural change of business models where people are building their supply chains around California” for goods not destined for California,”

Is the Bloom Off California’s Rose? Some Say Yes.
US Gulf, East Coast ports vie to attract container cargo and business from the once-Golden State
The CalTrade Report

LOS ANGELES – 12/04/08 – The continuing global economic crisis, dreary retail sales, and increased efforts by US Gulf and East Coast ports to attract container cargo are severely impacting the volume of goods moving through California’s deep-water container ports, according to the monthly Port Tracker report released this week by the National Retail Federation (NRF). 
 
Overall, nationally cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to decline 6.5% in 2008 compared with 2007 as merchants carefully manage inventories in response to the nation’s slow economy.

Container cargo volumes moving through the West Coast ports fell again in October, and 2008 is now expected to be the slowest year since 2004, the report said. 

Import and export container volume moving through the Port of Los Angeles, the nation’s busiest box port, was off 3.9% for the 12-month period ending in October, while the Port of Long Beach, the nation’s second ranked port, was down 7.7% during the same period. 


 

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“While the present downturn and the recession that might follow will hurt everybody, the ports of the U.S. West Coast will not recover so easily because their decline is part of a deeper malaise”

West Coast port volume drop likely to worsen in next decade, study says

Cargo volumes at West Coast ports will continue to decline because of higher intermodal transportation costs. That’s the latest forecast in a study conducted by Drewry Shipping Consultants, a United Kingdom-based maritime advisory firm.

The U.S. Pacific Coast will lose its leadership position in the import cargo market because it’s cheaper to transport goods via Gulf Coast and East Coast ports, according to the study.

The “complacency of inland transport providers,” especially U.S. railroads, is driving the shift, the study claims. Although railroads continue to invest in infrastructure, the nation’s rail system is faced with a tightening market and rising demand.

“Railroads have chosen to up their prices rather than invest in significantly more capacity, in the mistaken belief that they had a captive market,” said Drewry Supply Chain Advisors’ Philip Damas in a statement.

The West Coast cargo decline likely will intensify during the next decade, with intermodal costs continuing to rise and all-water costs continuing to fall, the study predicts.

 

And: Changes threaten US intermodal route: Report

Updated October 28, 2008 3:36:28 PM
Peter T. Leach / The JOURNAL of COMMERCE ONLINE

 

After years of dominating the United States maritime trade, the intermodal route connecting the major West Coast ports with interior regions is coming under threat, according to a logistics white paper published by Drewry Supply Chain Advisors.

While the recent decline of containerized imports through West Coast ports looks like the natural result of the U.S. economic slowdown, the white paper argues that these changes are structural and long-term.

The white paper, “U.S. Intermodal Today and Tomorrow,” says that several factors have combined to undermine the position of America’s Pacific Coast ports, not least of which is the complacency of the U.S. railroads.

For many destinations in the eastern U.S., the route via the West Coast ports is now much more expensive than the route via East Coast and Gulf Coast ports.

 

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CN sweetens pot for rail merger
Canadian railway raises Chicago-area bid, but critics remain
By Richard Wronski | Chicago Tribune reporter
October 2, 2008

Canadian National Railway pledged at least $60 million Wednesday to make improvements in its bid to reroute freight traffic through unsympathetic suburbs, but the money won’t begin to cover the cost of 15 overpasses and underpasses that critics say might be needed.

In its bid to buy the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway, CN previously had offered $40 million to help communities along the line cope with traffic delays, noise and other problems caused by increased trains.

But even CN’s sweetened offer won’t go far when it comes to constructing overpasses and underpasses in a dozen communities that a federal report warns would face significant traffic delays if the purchase is approved. Read the rest of this entry »

“Novato argued that freight trains would bring traffic problems, safety hazards and noise in the city.”

Novato council delays decision on train noise deal
Mark Prado
Article Launched: 10/01/2008 10:55:08 PM PDT

The Novato City Council delayed a decision on a settlement with the North Coast Railroad Authority addressing “quiet zones” at railroad crossings and the need for an environmental impact report.

The City Council held a special meeting on the issue Wednesday night at the police station.

Last year Novato filed a lawsuit saying the rail authority – which wants to revive freight service – should halt work repairing and upgrading its tracks until it completes an environmental review of its 316-mile rail plan, which would bring train traffic to the city.

Novato believed that review would lead to a limit on the number of trains and hours of operation as well as requirements that so-called quiet zones be installed at crossings. Quiet zones involve extensive safety measures that permit trains to roll through crossings without sounding their horns.

Novato argued that freight trains would bring traffic problems, safety hazards and noise in the city. Read the rest of this entry »

“… we have no intention of being enslaved by railroads”

Railroad rumble
Freight traffic would soar in some places and drop in others if Canadian National deal OKd
By Richard Wronski Tribune Reporter
September 14, 2008

The Canadian National Railway Co.’s plan to reroute freight train traffic through Chicago’s outlying suburbs has generated a locomotive-size controversy.

Opponents say the plan raises concerns about safety, traffic and pollution, while CN and experts say diverting freight trains around Chicago’s congested rail corridor will benefit business and the economy.

Thousands of residents have turned out at Chicago-area hearings to voice concerns about CN’s $300 million plan to acquire the lightly used Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway and transform it into what has been described as a rail superhighway.

Freight traffic could quadruple in some communities but significantly decrease in others. The U.S. Surface Transportation Board is expected to rule on the sale as early as December.

Here’s a look at some who favor the deal or oppose it—and why.

IF THE DEAL IS APPROVED, HERE’S WHO WOULD LOSE …

Frankfort

Freight trains would increase from six to 28 a day along the EJ&E tracks that cut through Frankfort. Marc Steinman, whose home is about 100 feet from the tracks, says: “Taking a transportation-related problem and moving it from one area to another doesn’t solve it. It just moves it.”

Barrington School District 220 

The district’s 9,200 students from kindergarten to 12th grade ride buses that cross the EJ&E tracks 376 times a day, said Supt. Tom Leonard. “It’s going to make traffic in town very difficult, and obviously it’s going to make traffic for kids who are on buses very problematic,” Leonard said.

Oak Terrace subdivision

The 160-home subdivision borders the EJ&E tracks and Illinois Highway 83 near Mundelein in unincorporated Lake County. Residents such as Cindy Murray complain that motorists use residential streets to avoid the crossing at Illinois 83 when freight trains block traffic. “I see more accidents, more injuries [happening],” Murray said.

West Chicago

The city, originally known as Junction, is reputed to be the first Illinois community created as the result of railroads. Under the CN plan, trains on the EJ&E line through town will increase from about 10 to more than 31 a day. “West Chicago is a railroad town, but we have no intention of being enslaved by railroads,” Mayor Mike Kwasman said.

TRAC Coalition

“All of us need to keep the pressure on the [transportation board],” said Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner, co-chairman of the Regional Answer to Canadian National, a coalition of suburban leaders from Lake, Cook, McHenry, Kane, DuPage and Will Counties, and northwest Indiana opposed to the CN deal.

Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital, Barrington

The additional train traffic in the Barrington area will delay ambulances, hospital officials say. Medical Director Joseph Giangrasso said: “It’s very simple: If you cannot get the patient to the hospital that could conduct their treatment, the patient will suffer. In emergency medicine, that usually means they die.”

 

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“I feel like we’re up against a giant. For them it’s all about money.”

Leaders hope to derail EJ&E plan
September 14, 2008 Recommend
BY SUSAN DEMAR LAFFERTY, Staff Writer

If the people don’t want more trains coming through town, it’s up to them to do something about it. At a New Lenox rally to oppose Canadian National Railroad’s plan to purchase the Elgin Joliet & Eastern tracks and run freight trains all day long, residents were told they have one last chance to write letters, make phone calls and voice their opinions. The deadline to submit comments is Sept. 30.

Residents and officials are hoping that if the local motion is powerful enough it will throw CN off the EJ&E tracks.

“We need you to speak louder and clearer than the train whistles. We need you to move faster than a freight train. And, we need you to do it now,” said Mokena Mayor Joe Werner, who joined New Lenox, Frankfort and Will County officials in firing up a packed auditorium at Lincoln-Way Central High School Wednesday night to oppose the foreign rail company.

“Is there any benefit to us at all?” one man asked about CN’s proposal to operate 28 freight trains per day through the Lincoln-Way communities.

“Absolutely not,” said New Lenox Mayor Tim Baldermann.

 

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“The first issue that needs to be addressed will be economic feasibility”

By CERENA JOHNSON, The Eureka Reporter
Published: Sep 12 2008, 11:35 PM · Updated: Sep 13 2008, 1:02 AM

Discussion returned to the future of the railroad at Thursday’s Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District meeting.

North Coast Railroad Authority Chairman Allan Hemphill provided the board with an update on current projects.

Currently, the NCRA is focused on reconstruction of the southern end of the line, with a $70 million reconstruction geared toward signals work, restoration of levees in Shellville and bridge reconstruction, Hemphill said.

As the harbor district has yet to reach a final decision on the Redwood Marine Terminal Project, Hemphill said there is “not much of a place to table” for the NCRA.

Once a decision is reached, Hemphill said, “we are required by staff to respond to that.”

The proposed marine terminal project includes construction of a multipurpose berth and long-term expansion dependent on operation of the railroad.

The way the process is set up, Hemphill said several issues need to be addressed.

“The first issue that needs to be addressed will be economic feasibility,” Hemphill said, along with assessing whether there is a sufficient traffic base.

Hemphill also said environmental issues need to be addressed in order to handle that traffic — in the case of the Eel River canyon, an environmental impact report — and said the question of where funds come from for restoration needs to be answered.

“We’re waiting for something to respond to,” he said.

Two years ago, the NCRA began the process of assessing the cost of fixing the canyon, starting an environmental review process and engaging an engineering company to do photo mapping to determine where problematic areas are, as well as a geo-tech study.

That is now in the final stages, Hemphill said, after which it will be delivered to the NCRA board and made available to the harbor district and public.

“I think it will finally answer some of the questions that have been hanging out there,” Hemphill said.

The harbor district board also continued discussion of the Goldman Sachs negotiations.

“We have not accepted their proposal because it does not cover items the board feel are necessary,” said Commissioner Roy Curless.

Curless said a lot of negotiating remains to be done between the board’s committee and Goldman Sachs.

“They’ve kind of come dead in the water,” Curless said.

The next step will be for Goldman Sachs to come up with a proposal that is accepted by the committee, which the committee would then bring to the board for fine-tuning, he said.

Read the story in the Eureka Reporter >

“The total number of loaded containers, import containers and empty containers were all down – by 6.7 percent, 15.3 percent and 46.7 percent, respectively.”

Alameda Corridor Numbers Plummet; Diversion Likely Cause
The Cunningham Report
08/31/2008

 

The number of trains running along the Alameda Corridor and the number of containers those trains carried were down by double-digit percentages during the first six months of 2008, according to new figures from the Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority.
The numbers speak for themselves:

  • There were 8,033 trains that traveled along the 20-mile cargo expressway the first six months of the year, a decrease of 11.6 percent from the 9,091 during January to June 2007.
  • The number of containers declined 11.2 percent to 1.46 million this year from 1.65 million in the first half of last year.
  • The total number of loaded containers, import containers and empty containers were all down – by 6.7 percent, 15.3 percent and 46.7 percent, respectively.
  • The only increase for the six-month period came in the number of exports through the corridor, which were up 12.9 percent.

“What this does indicate is that there has been a fall-off in terms of the number of trains that are carrying cargo, which represents a loss in discretionary cargo to these ports in the first six months of this year,” ACTA CEO John Doherty told the Long Beach Harbor Commission last week. “Typically we trend exactly as the ports (of Long Beach and Los Angeles) do – if the ports are off three percent a year, the Alameda Corridor is off three percent a year. But the ports are now off 7.7 percent combined … and the Alameda Corridor is off 11 percent. So this is a little indicator that we’re losing discretionary cargo,” he said.

It’s an important indicator.

Everybody knows that shippers have to use the Southern California ports for the cargo destined for Southern California. The Los Angeles and Long Beach ports would have to become outrageously expensive before it would make sense to ship cargo through Oakland or Mexico and truck it to Southern California. But the discretionary cargo – goods headed across the Continental Divide to the American heartland – can be easily diverted to other ports.

“Overnight, home values of 100,000 homeowners along the EJ&E will plummet”

Opponents of EJ & E sale march to Wednesday meeting
By Robert Channick
Special to the Chicago Tribune
9:25 PM CDT, August 27, 2008

Area residents turned out by the hundreds Wednesday in Barrington to voice opposition to the proposed purchase of a suburban railroad line.

More than 500 people—many carrying protest signs—marched to Barrington High School, where a public meeting on Canadian National Railway Co.’s proposed purchase of the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway was held later in the day.

The marchers—many chanting, “Stop the trains”—tied up traffic.

“If we create enough of a traffic jam it will give people just a little taste of what’s ahead if CN gets approval,” said Linda Reinhard, who organized the march.

The march gathered participants as it proceeded for more than a mile along Lake Cook Road to the high school.

The public meeting was one in a series being held throughout the Chicago area to discuss the U.S. Surface Transportation Board’s draft environmental impact report on the proposed sale.

More than 1,000 people crowded into the school’s gymnasium, where a visibly upset Rep. Donald Manzullo (R-Ill.) told representatives of the federal board that the draft report underestimated the number of affected rail crossings that could be blocked.

“It gives new meaning to the word ‘railroad,’ ” he said.

Another critic, Rep. Melissa Bean (D-Ill.), said as many as 40 suburban communities would be impacted. It would be unfair, she said, for U.S. taxpayers to pay for rail improvements that would financially benefit shareholders of the Montreal-based company.

Jeff Mangano of Lake Zurich, one of about 80 people who signed up to speak, said he worried about falling property values if the purchase were approved.

“Overnight, home values of 100,000 homeowners along the EJ&E will plummet,” he said.

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Rail removal firm will pay Montco to complete work

NORRISTOWN — The Montgomery County commissioners normally are spending money when they award contracts.  

However, a contract recently awarded by the commissioners will put money into the county’s coffers. 

The county contracted with Railroad Resources and Recovery of Bethlehem to remove 2.4 miles of railroad track materials, including wooden ties and steel tracks, along the western border of the county’s Lorimer Park in Abington. 

The company will pay the county $205,100 for the job and materials it removes. 

“With the price of steel these days” responded county regional trails manager Rich Wood, explaining why the company would pay the county for the work. 

The county has entered into a nominal lease with SEPTA to use the land for a hiking and biking trail.  Read the rest of this entry »

“NCRA has become, instead, a pretend railroad, existing primarily to garner federal and state funds as those involved, including Hauser during his brief tenure as NCRA’s chief executive, insist that an operating railroad will emerge someday.”

Dan Walters: An example of why state Legislature is a dysfunctional mess
By Dan Walters — Bee Columnist
Published 2:15 am PDT Monday, June 27, 2005

When Arnold Schwarzenegger says the Legislature is insular, ineffective and beholden to special interests, he’s absolutely correct.

Senate Bill 792 is a perfect microcosm of legislators’ utter disconnection from reality and common sense, and their penchant for wasting their time and our money on favors and trivia.

Briefly, SB 792 would let an obscure entity called the North Coast Railroad Authority use $5.5 million in state funds, originally set aside to repay a federal loan, for operational purposes. But to understand its utter absurdity, one needs some history.

For 70 years, beginning in 1914, the Northwestern Pacific Railroad, a subsidiary of the Southern Pacific Railroad, operated a 300-mile-long line connecting the San Francisco Bay Area with Eureka, mostly carrying lumber. But NWP was a very expensive line to maintain because much of its track paralleled the Eel River, subject to damage from heavy winter rains and the region’s notoriously unstable geology. As freight business declined, Southern Pacific finally concluded that the NWP was a loser and in the 1980s, sought to shut it down. A private company was formed to buy it in the mid-1980s, but it went bankrupt two years later.

A local assemblyman, Dan Hauser, persuaded the Legislature to create the North Coast Railroad Authority (NCRA) in 1989 to take over the northern portion of the line, contending that public ownership could make it viable. But NCRA experienced exactly the same problems that previous owners had seen. Seven years ago, federal officials shut down the railroad for poor maintenance. Ever since, its roadbed has continued to erode, its tracks have continued to rust and it has not functioned as a railroad in any rational sense. Nor could it function, any objective appraisal would easily conclude. Read the rest of this entry »

” it would be “terrible” if there were a dozen trains running through Tracy every day.”

Union Pacific could derail Tracy plan
By Mike Martinez and Paul Burgarino
Tri-Valley Herald
Article Last Updated: 08/10/2008 08:10:17 AM PDT

TRACY — It’s been a longtime goal of many to bring trains to downtown Tracy.

It’s a campaign issue for some seeking a seat on the City Council, and the city is building a $12 million multimodal station with designs on moving the Altamont Commuter Express from Linne Road to the Bowtie area.

But recently a kink in the line has been found.

The Union Pacific Railway has quietly been developing plans to resurrect the mostly dormant Mococo line, which runs from Martinez to Tracy, with an estimated average of 10 to 15 freight trains a day, to their final destination in Roseville.

During slow economic periods, as few as three trains a day would use the line. But in better times, UP officials estimate running as many as 40.

Union Pacific decided to reactivate the line to transport consumer freight because goods manufacturers have been utilizing railroads as a cheaper means of transporting goods given rising fuel prices. Also other, more convenient, lines for transporting freight are locked in to carrying trains for commuter use, said Zoe Richmond, a Union Pacific spokeswoman.

In Tracy, the 2-mile long trains would render the multimodal station virtually useless for passenger trains before it is even completed, clog traffic on major thoroughfares already overburdened with cars, and create a potential disaster for emergency responders, city officials said.

Mayor Brent Ives, who also serves as chairman of the San Joaquin Council of Governments, said he directed city staff to meet with UP in an effort to determine the impacts on the city.

Ives ticked off six major arteries where the trains would potentially snarl traffic — Grant Line Road, Corral Hollow Road, 11th Street, Tracy Boulevard, Central Avenue and MacArthur Drive — where a need for a grade-separation crossing would be created at a cost of about $35 million for each over- or under-crossing.

He said it would be “terrible” if there were a dozen trains running through Tracy every day.

“We’ve laid out for them the clear impacts of going through Tracy on the Mococo line again,” Ives said. “They’ve been understanding and listened, but they say if they have to do it, they’ll do it.”

“UP doesn’t care who they impact,” Ives said. “it’s their line. The Bowtie and the tracks belong to them. People will tell you we’ve got to do something about it, and I’ve talked to a number of people about it, including Congressman Jerry McNerney.

“We haven’t heard (what UP is going to do), and they’re not obligated to tell us.”
Read the rest of the story >

 

 

Looking at the Future of Humboldt Bay
as an International Shipping Terminal

The Humboldt Bay Stewards invites you to join us at this community forum

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

 Wharfinger Building
1 Marina Way in Eureka

6:30-8:30pm

Join us in exploring the proposed Redwood Dock Marine Terminal that the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District is negotiating with Goldman Sachs.

Our speakers will summarize the project and discuss the impacts on the natural resources and societal values of our community.

An opportunity for questions and answers will follow the presentations.

The goal of the evening is to engage the community in this important decision for our future.

We can only plan together by working together.

 

 

“I would really like someone from the NCRA or the operator to hold a joint meeting or something,” Wilson said. “We’re not getting any acknowledgment that this project even exists.”

Answers lacking in big Bay plans – July 29, 2008

Jennifer Savage
Eye Scene Editor

WOODLEY ISLAND – Ongoing concerns over the future of Humboldt Bay prompted more than 50 people to attend last week’s Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District meeting. 

In addition to the usual attendees offering their usual critiques, a significant number of new constituents showed up.

With the room filled to capacity, many attendees could only listen through the doors, kept open through the mostly temperate evening.

Fill the marina

Prior to the big ticket items, open public comment took place. Humboldt Fishermen’s Marketing Association representative Ken Bates reiterated the association’s request that the Bay District strive to decrease the Woodley Island Marina vacancy rate. “We still would like to see it 90 percent full,” Bates said. 

The HFMA has sought to mitigate an upcoming slip increase by suggesting the district instead  increase income by reworking its leasing policy. The association suggests the Bay District evict derelict and non-used boats, reassign boats to more appropriately sized slips and reduce the percentage of slips reserved for transient vessels to make room for local residents currently on the marina’s four-year waiting list.

Revenue bonds, explained

A presentation by District Treasurer Mark Wetzel addressed the revenue bond portion of the draft Redwood Marine Terminal Business Plan. Revenue bonds, he explained, are a form of debt secured by the revenue of a specific project, as opposed to “general obligation” bonds paid through taxes and needing voter approval. Revenue bonds are more risky, Wetzel said, and in this case, would be secured solely by projected marine terminal income. If the revenue failed to meet expectations, discharging the debt would be “a long and painful process,” he finished.

Cruise ship projections questionable

Like many, Third District Commissioner Mike Wilson questioned consultants TranSystems’ reliance on an unprecedented number of cruise ships visiting Humboldt Bay.

“It’s TranSystems’ report,” District Chief Executive Officer Hull said. “It’s theirs to justify – they need to justify.” The didn’t “just make it up,” he continued, but they failed to explain how the increase would occur. Hull said he expected the final draft to contain a better rationale.

Rail tie-in

The proposed port development necessitates the return of rail to Humboldt County, a component which continues to polarize the county. Wilson suggested seeking funding based not on revenue bonds, but by presenting the port as a coastal barge feeder alternative to the rail. “Then it actually becomes a reasonably fundable project,” he said, citing California Transportation Commission support. “It would drastically change the equation,” Wilson continued, instead of continuing what he called, “The path of most resistance.”

Discussion of the rail component prompted questions over why the North Coast Railroad Authority had yet to officially recognize its role in the proposed development plan.

“I would really like someone from the NCRA or the operator to hold a joint meeting or something,” Wilson said. “We’re not getting any acknowledgment that this project even exists.” Hull assured him that an NCRA representative would attend the next district meeting. Read the rest of this entry »

“Operations would generate emissions of nitrogen oxides that would exceed the state standard more than 10 times.”

 

Honda deal spells emissions for Richmond
By Katherine Tam
West County Times
Article Launched: 08/01/2008 05:57:29 PM PDT

Richmond is near to finalizing a deal with American Honda Motor Co. to move 150,000 cars a year through its port, a contract that could bring about $100 million in revenue over 15 years.

The deal would be a major boon to the city coffers, but it also would carry environmental impacts, including one deemed to be “significant and unavoidable,” according to the draft environmental impact report. Operations would generate emissions of nitrogen oxides that would exceed the state standard more than 10 times.

“Although mitigation measures have been identified to reduce the project’s air emissions, they would still substantially exceed the (Bay Area Air Quality Management District) threshold,” according to the document.

Nitrogen oxides alone aren’t considered harmful to people, but they contribute to smog, which can irritate the lungs and trigger asthma, said Aaron Richardson, a spokesman for the air district.

A provision in California law allows applications with emissions above state thresholds to move forward if economic or social benefits outweigh the environmental effects. The city of Richmond would need to file a Statement of Overriding Consideration outlining such benefits.

Read the rest of the story >

“The North Coast Railroad Authority has been engaged in an epic courtroom battle with the City of Novato over whether NCRA is obligated to produce an environmental impact report on work to rehabilitate the rail line.”

More on NCRA lawsuit
Willits News 

By Mike A’Dair/TWN Staff Writer

Since last September, the North Coast Railroad Authority has been engaged in an epic courtroom battle with the City of Novato over whether NCRA is obligated to produce an environmental impact report on work to rehabilitate the rail line.

The agency also is challenging the legality of a September 28, 2007, lawsuit filed by Novato against NCRA.

According to NCRA, the lawsuit was filed more than 35 days after the rail authority had approved the project. Although the rail line has stated the project was approved by the NCRA board of directors on August 16, 2006, and by the California Transportation Commission in March 2007, when $1.5 million was released to the NCRA to begin repairs on the rail line, Marin County Superior Court Judge James Ritchie has ruled board approval does not constitute final approval of the project.

Instead, Ritchie ruled a project is approved by an administrative body when that body has negotiated and signed a contract for the work to be done. Under that interpretation, Novato’s September 28, 2007, lawsuit did not exceed the statute of limitations.

Read the rest of this entry »

 “We will continue to turn out in record numbers until we make standard a new precedent that puts people before freight” 

Barrington, IL (June 30, 2008)
Barrington Communities Against CN Rail Congestion Coalition 

More than 500 residents from along the 198 mile EJ&E rallied Sunday afternoon with local officials and called on Congress to oppose the proposed acquisition of the EJ&E by CN and pass federal legislation that protect communities and their interests.

Members from the Barrington Communities Against CN Rail Congestion and TRAC (The Regional Answer to Canadian National), two groups of Mayors representing dozens of communities, kicked off the first of several planned rallies to address CN’s proposed acquisition of the EJ&E. Participants included elected leaders from throughout the Chicagoland area including State Representative Mike Fortner (95th District), Barrington Mayor Karen Darch, Lake Zurich Mayor John Tolomei, West Chicago Mayor Michael Kwasman, Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner, Deer Park Mayor Scott Gifford, Tower Lakes President Kathleen Leitner, Barrington Township Supervisor Gene Dawson, Cuba Township Supervisor Dave Nelson, Lake County Board Member Steve Mansour, and several Village Trustees from impacted communities. Hundreds of people stood in the rain at Barrington Memorial Park with yard signs expressing their opposition to CN with such sentiment as “”We the People Have Rights and Right of Way Too!”

 

 

“We will continue to turn out in record numbers until we make standard a new precedent that puts people before freight,” said Darch. “The time has come for Congress to act and represent the interests of American citizens in 21st century communities.”

“We need to take a fresh look at the relationship between railroads and communities,” added Weisner. “This is no longer the wide open west, so our concerns need to be dealt with appropriately and not ignored.”

The two coalitions have been petitioning Congress to intervene and fully assess the safety and environmental implications to local communities that will result if the Surface Transportation Board (STB) approves the deal. Senators Barack Obama, Dick Durbin and Congresswoman Melissa Bean have openly opposed CN’s planned purchase of the EJ&E as proposed.

Mayor Kwasman added, “We are tired of asking. It’s time to demand that our U.S. Congress take action, and take action now.”

“Congress needs to make railroads pay the freight for the benefits they get to offset the negative impacts they create,” said Mayor Tolomei.

Read the rest of this entry »

“In our house, you can’t even talk when a train is going by”
MATT MISTEREK
Published: June 26th, 2008 01:30 AM | Updated: June 26th, 2008 06:19 AM
The whistles of passing trains blare nearly 70 times a day in Steilacoom. Now residents face an indefinitely noisy future, just months after train horns appeared destined to become a romantic memory in Washington’s oldest town.The Town Council voted in September to spend up to $130,000 for a wayside horn at the Union Avenue crossing. The automated device would limit the noise to the area near the busy ferry terminal. Train engineers would then be free from routinely blowing their whistles, which scatter a rock concert-level din through surrounding hills and neighborhoods. They could still blow them at their discretion in an emergency.

But rail regulators now say the town also must install a fixed horn at the Sunnyside Beach pedestrian crossing – doubling the cost – or else trains will keep blasting their whistles each time they pass through town.

Steilacoom staff members recommend that the Town Council approve spending more than $280,000 for the pair of wayside horns. The council is holding its second public hearing on the issue next week.

For now, the sound – and among some residents, the fury – continue in the town of 6,200 residents.

“Either you love the train whistles and you moved to Steilacoom to hear them, or they drive you crazy and you can’t sleep,” said resident Harry Meloeny.

He counts himself in the latter group, even though he has nostalgic feelings from his days switching cars in Pasco for Northern Pacific railroad. But that was a long time ago, in the late 1950s, when he was a college student.

“In our house, you can’t even talk when a train is going by,” Meloeny said.

Read the rest of the story>