A Bay Area environmental group is seeking to save the rail tracks in Mendocino and Humboldt Counties from being torn out. The Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund, TRANSDEF, sent a letter to the North Coast Railroad Authority demanding that the NCRA Board rescind the action it took last month. TRANSDEF asserted that the Board had no legal authority to direct its staff to begin the process of abandoning the railroad and turning it into a trail, in a process called railbanking. Railbanking means tearing out the tracks while claiming that the railroad can be restored in the future.
North Coast Senator Mike McGuire is sponsoring a bill called SB 69, which proposes ripping out the existing rails between Cloverdale and Samoa and building a trail. His bill would direct NCRA to railbank that segment. However, NCRA jumped the gun to start that process, prior to the bill becoming law. TRANSDEF demanded that NCRA withdraw its application to railbank its line.
TRANSDEF’s President, David Schonbrunn, said “We oppose McGuire’s bill SB 69 because we oppose tearing out tracks here at the very same time that our state is spending billions of dollars elsewhere to build rail lines. Restoring these rails to service could mean a lot for the North Coast’s future. The rails could support excursion trains, freight trains, passenger trains and trails. We support trails with rails.”