STB ruling douses hope of converting old rail line into great trail

Written by Bill Wilson, Editor-in-Chief
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Officials in Norfolk, Va., want The Tide to be extended to Military Circle.

The Great Redwood Trail in California is the subject of the latest great debate involving abandoned rail lines and new trails in the U.S.

A recent Surface Transportation Board ruling said efforts to revive the rail line should take precedent over efforts to build a trail. The decision could have a negative impact on plans to convert 300 miles of rail line into the Great Redwood Trail. The line runs through Humboldt and Marin counties.  

Mendocino Railways wants to keep the rail line in Mendocino County from Willits going south connected to the interstate rail network. The North Coast Railroad Co. has interest in the tracks along the Eel River, which is notorious for landslides.

U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman and state Sen. Mike McGuire have been leading the charge for the Great Redwood Trail, and want to make sure the line does not turn into a route for coal. McGuire wants to pass Senate Bill 307, which prohibit state funds to be used for the North Coast Railroad Co.’s project. McGuire does not think freight operations are possible along the route, and that rehabilitating the tracks to modern standards would cost billions.

Cities and Caltrans also want to transform areas on the rail line into trails, but the STB decision will make the process more complex.

Read more articles on track maintenance.

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