Re: Great Redwood Trail Letter to Governor Brown
Author: Friend of NCRA
Date: 08-08-2018 - 12:45
There is no choice about removing the line through the canyon.
The CA Supreme Court pretty much closed the books on that issue this
spring. And the only way to resolve this responsibility is to remove
it and replace it with a pathway.
But the story doesn't begin or end there.
The reality is that the state passed bad legislation years ago
when it created the NCRA, as there was never enough demand
for freight services in the corridor to generate sufficient revenues
to cover even NCRA's low operating costs.
As most on this forum know, the NCRA has been borrowing operating
funds from NWP and collateralizing assets in the process. The Board
did as well as it could given the shortage of revenues. But it
became apparent in the spring to the CTC that the current legal
structure wasn't viable.
And once that became apparent it became apparent that "some other agency"
had to take over the oversight responsibility (i.e., SMART). But first, the outstanding
debts incurred by the NCRA to operate had to be resolved.
The McGuire bill pays out the debts to NWP (that's a good thing isn't it?)
But the bill doesn't address how to cover the ongoing costs associated with
oversight of the row. There are no revenues pledged to cover these oversight
Is SMART -- as the chosen overseer -- going to eat these costs? As a transit agency
with a sales tax revenue source some in Sacramento appear to believe
that this is unnecessary or that freight will cease operations. (Does
the legislative staff understand what "common carrier" even means?)
The reality is that SMART doesn't do anything cheaply in contrast
to the well-meaning and hard working NCRA staff. But, SMART has
no extra operating funds to allocate for this purpose. But they
also have a much broader political constituency, given how
popular passenger rail is with the voters.
So, it remains to be seen how this will get resolved.
Also, I haven't seen any awareness on this forum that the legislature
is assuming freight operations from American Canyon to Windsor
are going to cease.