Re: Wash. State, Yakima - bums, copper bandits and trail nazi- council - 85 creep
> Well they operated recently, I believe at
> Halloween. Not sure what all this worrying is
By Joel Donofrio
During a year of restricted routes and the resulting lower revenue, the Yakima Valley Trolleys organization received a welcome spark of good news this summer.
The mechanical systems of an original Yakima Trolley car made in 1930 by the Brill Company have been restored and are now operating, said Larry Fournier, treasurer and board member of the Yakima Valley Trolleys organization. Mechanic Russ Wentworth was instrumental in the effort.
It “has been sitting in here for years not operating and we got it operating a couple months ago,” Fournier said Sept. 26 as he walked through the group’s facilities at Third Avenue and West Pine Street in Yakima.
Members of Union Pacific Historical Society who were meeting in Pasco in July made a special trip to Yakima to see the Brill Master Unit Car No. 21 roar to life.
“It would be an amazing improvement to our excursions. The goal is, a) to get the route back open to Selah and, b) to do it with the Brill Master Unit,” Fournier said. “But there are challenges.”
Among those challenges are finishing the restoration of the Brill Master Unit (particularly a flat spot on one of its wheels), recruiting more volunteers to help operate the trolley cars on their runs, and repairs to the rails, overhead wires and bridge between downtown Yakima and the city of Selah.
“Our ridership is lacking because we’re not running to Selah,” Fournier added. “People in Yakima … who are interested in trolleys have ridden the Portuguese car a mile and back so many times on Pine Street, it’s just not something they want to do.”
Another key issue is having motor operators available to run the trolleys, especially for the longer runs to Selah when they are available again.
“Our biggest challenge is manpower. Right now we’ve got one or two people who can work as motormen, plus a volunteer (Jim Moore) who comes from Seattle,” Fournier said. “And our one mechanic, Russ Wentworth – without him, we’d be done.
“I’m 85, and it’s really hard for me to drive the Portuguese car – you’ve got to stand up the entire time, they’re herky-jerky. Going to Selah on one of those, after you’ve done about three runs, well it’s just too much for me anymore,” he added. “We need to get more, younger people volunteering, especially to be motormen.”
Trolley line issues
While City Engineer Bill Preston has kept the City Council updated on issues and potential repairs needed on the Naches River bridge, its closure is not the only issue keeping trolleys from running on the Selah route.
The overhead wire for the trolley line in the Selah gap has been missing for roughly 15 years since it was stolen in the mid-2000s, Fournier said. While the Portuguese car made the run powered by a generator, the larger Brill car has two poles and would need overhead wires to get to Selah.
“Somewhere around 2005, 2006, 2007, a gang of thieves stole the overhead wire in the Selah Gap. We’ve got two miles of wire that need to be replaced,” Fournier said.
Before restoring the wire, the group wants to make sure there’s alarm system that would prevent future theft.
“Nobody can find an alarm system where if you cut the wire, it would trigger an alarm … so that’s why the wire isn’t up,” he said. “We can’t run the Brill car to Selah without the wire.”
“In August of 2022, the city ripped up the track across Fruitvale,” Fournier said. “They promised to restore in April, then they moved it to July, and now it’s October. That would allow us to run to the bridge.”
In August, Preston told City Council members only one of the two tracks is in place across Fruitvale, with the missing track’s space covered with a temporary asphalt patch to allow cars to drive over it safely. Repairing the crossing, including $11,000 for ties, would cost $35,000, Preston said.
Mayor Janice Deccio and council member Byers asked Preston to focus on fixing the Fruitvale crossing, but Preston said the contractor who has done trolley line repairs in the past is unavailable until the fall.
Johnsen, the YVT president, said in August that funding for the Fruitvale crossing repair should not be a problem.
“I have personally contributed $11,500 toward the cost of materials, and with the help of (former state Sen.) Jim Honeyford, we have obtained a $25,000 grant from the state toward the cost of repairs,” Johnsen said. “The problem seems to be a lack of personnel to complete the project.”