At the December 9th meeting of the North Coast Rail Authority (NCRA) at Novato, Marin county resident Jerry Peters was elected as Chair for 2016. Sonoma County representative Alan Hemphill was selected vice chair of the 9 person board. The positions are pretty traditionally rotated by counties. Humboldt County 2nd District Supervisor Estelle Fennell served as chair for 2015.
Former North Coast Congressman Doug Bosco spoke for NCRA operator North Western Pacific Co. (NWPco) and updated the NWPco status with the Sonoma Marin Area Rapid Transit (SMART). It seems they are getting along better and not at odds. SMART recently tested the tracks for their trains at 80 miles an hour during a “Positive Train Control” program, which helps transit and freight coordinate to keep each other’s operations safe. SMART has agreed to put in some rail spurs as has DUTRA at $600,000 a switchback to help move freight cargo along the rail. NWPco garnered a new customer to haul 200 carloads a year of wheat grain out of Alberta. Bosco predicted NWPco approaching 1,000 carloads by next year. Hopes were for continued railroad freight expansion to Cloverdale in the near future. He estimated the cost at 6 million dollars and identified Mendocino Forest Products as a benefited customer. Mr. Bosco suggested maybe another future partnership between the NCRA and NWPco for another Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing (RRIF) loan.