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SMART rail work to close Santa Rosa, Petaluma roads

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Re: SMART rail work to close Santa Rosa, Petaluma roads

Postby fxlnll » Fri Oct 12, 2012 8:11 am

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Re: SMART rail work to close Santa Rosa, Petaluma roads

Postby Chris Weber » Fri Oct 12, 2012 8:27 am

That is the only mention of access problems that I was able to find and it contains none of the specifics that Born Here and FNG bring up.

I have to wonder if this is a case of "don't change anything in our neighborhood" or really a problem. There certainly seems to be a lot of information available about the process for purchasing rights of way and mitigating the financial impacts. I find it hard to believe that access to land divided by the rail line would not be one of the issues that would have to be addressed.

Seems to me there might be opportunities for landowners to profit.
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Re: SMART rail work to close Santa Rosa, Petaluma roads

Postby FNG » Fri Oct 12, 2012 9:14 am

I didn't want to get into mud slinging contest over this issue but since you asked Chris.

This response is based on my fondness for trains and history and contains assumptions. May not be others cup of tea but I go exploring looking for old abandon rights of way as a hobby and since moving to Petaluma have been reading on the history of the NWP and The Petaluma & Santa Rosa Railroads.

The railroads own the land their tracks sit on.

For existing right of way:
They 'allow' crossing of their property (right of way) at grade crossings. Ranchers that have parcels on both sides of the tracks do not own the grade crossings, the railroads do. In this case the railroad is saying "no more" and a revoking their permission that allowed ranchers & others to cross the RR property (tracks).

If the railroad is laying tracks across and dividing a ranchers property, it is I believe under eminent domain (sic) but I'm not a lawyer and that is from history classes taken a long time ago.


The next part is speculation but an example could be: The ranchers in northern Marin that have property on both sides of the NWP probably faced this when the NWP railroad was intially built like 1907-ish. Land that had been in the family for generations became divided by the railroad heading north. When the NWP curtailed and eventually ceased operating trains regularly on the line the ranchers, hikers and people accessing the river did not have to be concerned with trains at the crossings. Over the last 30+ years of no trains a water level is established and that water bucket is now being kicked over as the NWP successor decides to start up operations again in the form of SMART and they don't want anyone on their right of way. A grade crossing accident ruins many people's days.

Same applies to the High speed in the central valley, if they are operating on existing right of way even those that have not been used for decades it is their property.

A bitter pill to swallow. Unfortunately my attempting to make an explanation will lead to personal attacks. I am stating how I believe the situation works, not whether I agree or disagree with the cost to the ranchers, because we all need to eat, but I am looking forward to riding SMART and California High Speed Rail.
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Re: SMART rail work to close Santa Rosa, Petaluma roads

Postby Chris Weber » Fri Oct 12, 2012 9:32 am

Thanks, FNG. This is exactly the sort of information that I was looking for. While also a train buff, I am not versed in these issues.

Taking anything a governmental authority says with a grain of salt, the high speed rail authority website does address the issues of right of way purchases and compensation for loss of income and relocating homes and businesses, etc.

Would not a landowner who's property was being divided by the rail would be in a pretty good position to negotiate the grade crossings and access to their own land? I don't think we are talking about "The Octopus" anymore.
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Re: SMART rail work to close Santa Rosa, Petaluma roads

Postby BORN HERE » Fri Oct 12, 2012 10:47 am

We all know life is not fair, however I think these grade crossings should have been included in the cost of the project. Personally I have no problem with the train concept. really there are only a hand full of ranches that will be affected by this.

How about the south end of town (Haystack Landing). Do you think the folks who live down there are going to be able to afford a 300,000 dollar crossing? I am not sure if the 300,000 dollar amount is correct or not, just what I have heard through the grape vine. Does anyone know what the exact cost will be for these crossings?
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Re: SMART rail work to close Santa Rosa, Petaluma roads

Postby FNG » Fri Oct 12, 2012 11:04 am

BORN HERE wrote:Do you think the folks who live down there are going to be able to afford a 300,000 dollar crossing? I am not sure if the 300,000 dollar amount is correct or not, just what I have heard through the grape vine. Does anyone know what the exact cost will be for these crossings?



No, I don't think $300K will be affordable for the folks that live there and the cost should be borne by the railroad. I'll read the EIR again if I get a chance this weekend but do not remember seeing how the grade crossings were discussed.

On another note about SMART: The rails and ties were pulled up on the stretch you can see from NB101 just north of the Marin Civic Center. It appears that concrete ties and new rail will be laid soon in that area. The EIR writes about the poor condition of the ballast that will limit the speed of the trains it will be interesting to see if they clean and refurbish the ballast along with ties and rails.
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Re: SMART rail work to close Santa Rosa, Petaluma roads

Postby homerecv » Fri Oct 12, 2012 11:59 am

I dont believe that is the case up here. Just because they were not using the rails does not mean that you should not consider them as being off limits. There is a dairy between Novato and Petaluma that has a tunnel that goes under the highway, not sure if it goes under the rail lines. This town was built around the rail lines, over time we have encroached on them. Now it is time to fix what we should have been paying attention to all along.
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Re: SMART rail work to close Santa Rosa, Petaluma roads

Postby DLoozional » Fri Oct 12, 2012 12:05 pm

BORN HERE wrote:We all know life is not fair, however I think these grade crossings should have been included in the cost of the project. Personally I have no problem with the train concept. really there are only a hand full of ranches that will be affected by this.


Had all of the real and foreseen costs been included in what was pitched to voters, they never would have passed it.
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Re: SMART rail work to close Santa Rosa, Petaluma roads

Postby Chris Weber » Fri Oct 12, 2012 6:39 pm

AS I understand it, the SMART initiatives regularly passed in Sonoma County but not in Marin, until the last time.

I was in Novato today and coming back (in heavy Friday traffic) I noticed that before the landfill, the rail line swings east, runs along the landfill and then east of the hills and along the river into central Petaluma.

While the landfill has a crossing, I doubt signals and crossing arms will be a problem there because of all of the trucks. After all, that freeway interchange was built there to make access safer.

I did find one article that said there are four private crossings in Petaluma, and that the SMART plan does call for consolidation of those (and others in Sonoma County) but I am having a hard time understanding where anyone lives in the Haystack Landing area--it looks pretty industrial to me. Besides, the area is supposed to be haunted!
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Re: SMART rail work to close Santa Rosa, Petaluma roads

Postby vin1717 » Sat Oct 13, 2012 10:34 pm

A lot has changed since the initiative was passed. IE..no more Corona Station to be built as promised upon opening...Only depot will be the in town station where parking is limited. Another cost factor issue.

So yes..I voted for the Train as it was presented at the time...now I feel taken advantage of.
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