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Rail Fumbles 

Editor:

A pox on both your houses!

Let's be honest, Ms. Hodgson ("We Have a Plan," June 28), you don't really pretend that, when gasoline goes up to $10 a gallon (as it inevitably will), that all of you pro-trail/anti-rail voices will sit quietly by and watch your newly won trainless trail be taken away by a reincarnation of the railroad because it will be (as it is now), the most fuel efficient, energy friendly form of transporting people and freight? Come now, I can see the crossed fingers behind your backs.
Surely we all know that once the tracks are "rail-banked" it will be for all time. Any move to make a withdrawal from that bank will be met by howls of indignation from those same people who are now promising to respect the need for any future reactivation of the rails. "Just give us what we want now and we'll respect you in a future morning." I think we've all heard that one before.

And as for you, North Coast Rail Authority, did I and others not stand before you years ago and make the point that your collapsing infrastructure along Humboldt County's busiest highway would, inevitably, lead to a major political push to take it away from you? Did I not tell you that you faced a use-it-or-lose it proposition? That unless you got something running in those tracks this day would come to pass?

Now, NCRA, due to your years of leaderless bumbling you face a determined opposition that will in all likelihood confiscate your railroad. You Humboldt County NCRA representatives chose to listen to those on the southern end of the railroad who made all sorts of sweet, vague promises. Now they have freight and, soon commuter trains, and what does Humboldt County have?
I'm waiting for your answer.

John Webb, Trinidad
 
Editor:

I want to respond to the publisher's column, which mentioned railbanking as an option for the use of the Northwest Pacific Railroad right-of-way between Arcata and Eureka. This is supposed to preserve it for use if rail service is re-established. This sounds good, but experience has shown that once a trail system is constructed, rail service is never restored. This is because of politics and expense.

The Timber Heritage Association has been working very hard to create a railroad museum and establish an historic tourist train around the bay. It has been agreed upon for a rail and trail system from Samoa to Arcata. If the two groups can agree on sharing the right-of-way from Samoa to Arcata, why not all the way to Eureka? The historic tourist train would not only generate revenue for THA and Arcata, but for businesses in Old Town Eureka as well.
The column stated that if rail service was re-established, the trail could be relocated alongside the tracks. Why can't the trail be located there in the first place, so both systems could be utilized? I believe the trail advocates want the rails pulled, knowing that they will never be re-installed.

If you support an historic tourist train around Humboldt Bay, I hope you were able to attend the meeting on July 11 when the trail advocates were to present their trail plan to the North Coast Railroad Authority.

Scott R. Baker, Mckinleyville
   
Editor:

NCJ's Ryan Burns ("Choo-Choo Fantasies," May 24) professionally researched the east/west railroad idea, and showed even a "feasibility study" is a waste of time and money; it would spend $250,000 in taxpayer money studying the wrong things. Supervisor Mark Lovelace's request for solid research on market need has gone unanswered. And many other Humboldt County residents supporting economic development want facts, not faith, justifying a public project.

Some proponents claim questioners oppose "all' economic development. I want economic development and jobs for Humboldt County, but oppose wasting scarce tax dollars on grandiose dreams. The jobless and "working poor" desperately need achievable, "right now" ideas, and this railroad isn't one of them.?Railroad supporters seem to believe this hundreds of millions of dollars scheme will come from "someone else's" tax dollars, but there are no "someone else's" tax dollars -- we're all in this economy together! There are dozens of good ideas for small existing and new business economic development. Let's pursue those ideas, and not get distracted with unreachable dreams from an era that has passed.

Jeff Knapp, Arcata

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