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Freight Train Service Through Novato Closer to Reality

Key agreement made Wednesday, but North Coast Rail Authority and city of Novato still need to render stamps of approval before boxcars clank through town.

There are are hoops to jump through in the coming weeks, but freight trains loaded with all sorts of goods — including wine — could be rolling through Novato soon.

The city of Novato and the North Coast Rail Authority still need to approve agreements before we'll see locomotives and boxcars rolling through the Black Point area and downtown Novato.

For the latest, check this Marin Independent Journal story.

Cindy June 16, 2011 at 01:44 PM
This train will not run at night, only during the day and only 3 times per week. These trains take a lot of large and small trucks off the highways and roads, they are a much more efficient and an environmentally friendly way of transporting all types of product. I say bring on the train and the wonderful sound of the "distant" train whistle, they only use the whistle when they are coming to road crossings. Certainly better than the sound of police sirens heading to the Wyndover Housing Development!!!!!
Mike Pechner June 16, 2011 at 02:27 PM
I was Raise6d in Novato in the 50's and 60's when there was 6 trains a day including night trains. I lived on 4th St. 6 blocks from the main line. NOBOBY ever complained about the trains, I never saw anything in I-J or Novato Advance. I had friends along Railroad Ave. and on Olive and Atherton and never a peep about trains. All that time Real Estate soared in Novato and folks filled in the area next to the tracks with new homes as Novato grew. The train has been in Novato since 1878. The opposition to the train by the Silly Council and residents are absurd. To be fair, the Council should now try to remove pollution belching trucks and the noise and traffic hazard they create on 101! What Novato residents don't understand is that the trains will have to run at night so SMART can run un-opposed during the day. I suspect as the economy increases, so will the length and frequency of the trains. The one thing Novato can't do is STOP is the train because that authority lies with the Federal Railroad Administration and they take a dim view of anyone who tries to stop or restrict Interstate Commerce. Mike Pechner My Father Fred, single handedly collected the 1500 signatures for incorporation in 1960.
Novato Resident June 16, 2011 at 02:41 PM
The longterm goal of the railroad owner, yes it is owned privately and not by a public agency as they like to present, is much bigger than presented here. If you dig deep enough you will find that Berg Holdings owns the rights and wants to eventually get to a gravel quarry along the environmentally sensitive Eel River between Dos Rios and Alder Point. The long term estimates of freight service are for many more trains a day and AT ALL HOURS. They managed to get approval for this on the same bill as the SMART train, which is how they basically "snuck" the use through. Congratulations voters! I hope you think about that while you're sitting in traffic watching trains go by or kept up at night by the noise. I shudder to think what it will do to traffic in Novato, though Petaluma will have it much worse since so much of their downtown traffic has to cross those lines and the river. This will create traffic issues in every town it goes through. Do you really think this was reopened altruistically? Think again... it's the plan of a man who intends on making a private profit out of it despite it's negative impacts on people, towns, traffic and the environment. Oh yeah, and the taxpayers are picking up the tab to rehabilitate the line so someone else can make the profit ... see http://novato.patch.com/articles/op-ed-freight-rail-agreement-unfair-to-taxpayers The public interest has been derailed once again by private interests and a good lobbyist!
Steve B June 16, 2011 at 02:51 PM
The train pre-dates the incorporation of Novato by 81 years! Stop the whimpering and complaining! Getting trucks off the road is paramount.
Rick Fraites June 16, 2011 at 02:55 PM
Look Mom, here comes the Taxpayer's Special!
DINAH MATTOS June 16, 2011 at 03:06 PM
The freight train I can handle...it's what comes next! SMART TRAIN....new buildings....more and more people....more and more gangs. Then what. STOP EVERYTHING....HOLD IT. THINK IT THROUGH. WAKE UP NOVATO. It's just around the corner.
DINAH MATTOS June 16, 2011 at 03:07 PM
WAKE UP NOVATO
Novato Resident June 16, 2011 at 03:10 PM
This will decrease the trucks on 101 by only a very few and with very little, if any, improvement to the existing traffic ... however the traffic implications in many towns will be huge. So, in ADDITION to sitting in traffic on 101 you'll be sitting in much more traffic in town(s) too! Seems like an exhaust exchange, at best, and not an improvement.
DINAH MATTOS June 16, 2011 at 03:19 PM
OMG this is insane! My husband is an old timer. Born and raised here. I quote "Sounds good to me, Ma. I think it would be nice to hear that ol' whistle blowing again." I told him "over my dead body" The way things are going, in our town I may get my wish if I stay out after dark in the wrong places. 20 yrs from now...he'll be gone and i'll be saying, "thank god i'm leaving so I won't see the worst of it." VOTE!!! By the way...Come see me at Lucky's Market Sat. PENNIES 4 POLICE DOGS Bring your change and drop it in the bucket...cookie sale too! SAT am 8 to 12
kim huff June 16, 2011 at 04:06 PM
The only people benefiting from this train are those transporting freight, taxpayers lose again.
Brent Ainsworth (Editor) June 16, 2011 at 05:22 PM
I know the pro-freight train people are saying the public will benefit by getting massive trucks off Highway 101 and lowering greenhouse gas emissions. They say it costs a fraction of the amount to transport a ton of goods via train vs. via truck.
Bill Hoopes June 16, 2011 at 05:47 PM
Hopefully there will be some conditions limiting the capacity of increased private commerce use without a public review. I seriously doubt the concerns that this will create massive traffic jams at the few intersections it impacts. Only the future wi answer these questions fully.
DINAH MATTOS June 16, 2011 at 06:08 PM
Novato doesn't have a future or a happy ending unless we get involved in the process and VOTE!!!
SamS June 16, 2011 at 06:53 PM
It is absurd to think that a train running past a city street for about one minute is going to cause traffic jams. that is idiotic thinking. The doom and gloom that some people post on this site about this Town is insane - do any of you have the ability to have a postive thought that something new might actually be a good thing? Dinah - you message is old and tired. if you hate novato so much - then MOVE!!!!! I challenge you to show one legitmate and accurate study that PROVES that a communter rail service running through Novato will bring gangs - as you claim. If you cannot provide a credible study - then shut up with all your negative rhetoric.
Phil Maher June 16, 2011 at 08:19 PM
Here's a slightly different take on some of the realities of the situation. I know that residents in Novato are concerned, but the city is merely a way-point on the route to a much larger (and what some might call, insidious) dynamic that's involved. In order to profit and prosper, new sources of revenue must be sought out, and quite frankly, the industries in Sonoma County are hardly capable of supporting this venture in the long-term. http://theava.com/archives/10764
DINAH MATTOS June 16, 2011 at 08:41 PM
and.............go on. You don't even know me.
Donna June 16, 2011 at 08:52 PM
I love trains. Guess who put the trains out of business? Goodyear. Why? Sell tires to big trucks. look it up... Trains are much more efficient and sustainable. look it up... and I DO vote. I'll be voting FOR the trains. Don't assume only those who vote are against the trains.
Donna June 16, 2011 at 08:57 PM
I vote. I will vote FOR the trains.
Robert J. Cleek June 17, 2011 at 02:51 AM
Obviously, you have no experience living near trains, do you?
Robert J. Cleek June 17, 2011 at 03:03 AM
Absolutely, the long term goal of the railroad owner, who happens to be the People of the State of California, which is us (the OPERATOR, NWP Co., is the private contractor/lessor), ultimately hopes to reopen rail traffic all the way to Eureka and the Port of Humbolt's new container terminal. Along the way, they will be able to reopen already existing gravel pits (which are NOT "in the Eel River" and have long been certified as having NO negative environmental impact on it) can again produce reasonably priced aggregate which now must be shipped in from British Columbia, off loaded to barges and towed up the rivers and then trucked through out Northern California at huge expense. Reopening the Redwood Empire to rail traffic will revitalize one of the most economically depressed areas in the State of California. You have a problem with a couple of minute wait at a grade crossing stoplight? Tell them that! This railroad is a good example of public funds applied to leverage private investment for the economic benefit of a large portion of the state which now must exclusively rely on far more expensive highway freight carriage. Mr. Berg and whomever else is profiting from the railroad has just as much right to profit from the state subsidized rails as the trucking industry has to profit from the state subsidized highways, and for all the same reasons, i.e. our benefit. I'm sorry, but your expressed concerns are paranoid fantasies fueled by nutcase propagandists.
Robert J. Cleek June 17, 2011 at 03:07 AM
Fear not, Dinah. Nobody's gonna "blow your horn." The grade crossing are all "low noise" models. No train horns will be blown at grade crossings in Novato. Inform yourself and you're life will be a whole lot stressful.
Robert J. Cleek June 17, 2011 at 03:15 AM
Oh, rully? Sonoma and Mendocino wineries are reportedly already all signed up to transport their product via rail. Sonoma and Mendocino livestock feed companies are also lined up waiting for rail service so they can quit paying the highest prices for feed trucked in from the Central Valley. Similarly, rock and gravel, all of which now has to be hauled by truck up 101, will be coming in by rail. No doubt gasoline won't be far behind. All of that is going to mean not only less crowded highways, but lower prices and increased economic vitality. As for subsidies? Who do you think pays for the highways the trucking companies are using now?
Robert J. Cleek June 17, 2011 at 03:20 AM
Rail certainly does cost a fraction of truck freight and that translates to savings for us and more money in the local economy all around. If you want to win a Pulitzer, or at least an "atta boy," research what the cost differential on the Novato Narrows widening projects, or the current 101 repaving project is between the current aggregate shipped in from British Columbia and elsewhere, by truck, and what those projects would cost if the rail head was right here in town. THEN consider whether the railroad's subsidy is a good use of tax dollars!
SHROYER FOR SUPERVISOR 2014 June 17, 2011 at 03:59 AM
I want to thank all the good people of Novato who care so much about this town to continue to engage in healthy conversations about this train and everything else. I appreciate everything Dinah Mattos and the Mattos Family have done for Novato. Dinah is our biggest supporter of our Pennies for Police Dogs campaign---and she has gotten dozens and dozens of people involved in city affairs. THANK YOU DINAH MATTOS FOR BEING SO WONDERFUL!! Novato would not be the same without you! Thank you for incredible energy!
Edwin Drake June 17, 2011 at 05:12 AM
Just wondering: How's everyone going to feel after the first child dies at a RR crossing? Oh wait, trucks kill many more children each year, nevermind!
Robert J. Cleek June 17, 2011 at 06:27 PM
A lot better than the dead kid, I'll bet! (Sorry, I couldn't resist. You really lobbed that one!) The front of a train and the front of a truck occupy about the same space. We can safely assume for the sake of argument, since they present the same "impact area," that the odds of getting hit by any given truck are the same as getting hit by any given train, even though the odds of getting hit by a truck are obviously greater because they cross far more crosswalks than trains do and the trains are required to maintain a 25 MPH speed, which trucks are not. Each car on a train carries the load of about four trucks. A train pulling ten freight cars equals forty trucks. A twenty freight car consist would equal eighty trucks. Thus, the chance of getting hit by a train may be expressed as four times the number of freight cars in the train LESS than the chance of being hit by a truck, per ton of cargo. Feel better now?
Joe Gallagher June 18, 2011 at 01:49 AM
I walked the tracks from Novato Community Hospital to under the freeway. The track repair work (if any) is poor! It looked like a TRAIN WRECK to me!! There are rotten railroad ties, missing shoe plates, and missing spikes. If this is any example in this short distance of the rest of the line, and freight trains were to use these tracks, it could be an accident waiting to happen.
Steve B June 20, 2011 at 07:45 PM
Trains get something crazy like 3000 MPG for freight, and they preserve the roads by taking the heavy/ massive stuff off. Sonoma's garbage, our garbage, gravel, asphalt, propane, cement, etc will all take the train. Your "exhaust exchange" comment is way off as trains are a hundred fold more efficient. (Steel on steel has very low friction, plus no stop and go, plus moderate grades, plus consolidated loads, etc, etc, etc.)
Steve B June 20, 2011 at 07:46 PM
Dinah, switch to decaf, you sound super stressed out.
Steve B June 20, 2011 at 07:47 PM
So, Kim, you don't eat? Don't use a car? Don't breathe air?

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