Julie with a B

Monday, June 13, 2005
The upside of taking out the garbage
Sonoma County has the same issues with garbage that everyone else has: where to put it. Recycling has cut down on the amounts, however, we still need someplace to dump it. The local dump on Meecham Rd. is almost full and can't be expanded due to ground water issues . A new site is nowhere to be found, with ground water contamination an problem at each potential site.

So officials starting looking for places to dump the trash where water was not a problem - the Nevada desert. Oh, but picture this - - long lines of trash trunks trundling along some of the most traveled freeways in California. Expensive and adds to the almost gridlock condition of the roads.

How about . . . the train! From the Press Democrat:
And a Reno-based garbage company is betting that a long-term solution for disposing of trash from Northern California, where high rainfall makes it difficult to contain pollution at landfills, will be to put the refuse on freight trains and send it to the desert.
. . . The key question for the county is whether trains could make moving trash long distances more affordable. It would take 65 trucks each day to haul all of the county's garbage to landfills elsewhere.
. . . Mitch Stogner, executive director of the North Coast Rail Authority, thinks it can be done and he is pushing rail as a cost-effective, environmentally friendly trash-removal choice.The rail authority oversees 300 miles of publicly owned train tracks from Napa to Arcata. It has been struggling to revitalize freight service since El NiƱo storms in 1998 and associated land slides severely damaged a section of the tracks between Willits and Humboldt County.
. . . But the 140-mile stretch of tracks between Willits and Napa, which hugs Highway 101 through Sonoma County before heading east in Novato, needs only some bridge repairs and railroad crossing signal improvements, Stogner said."The south end of the rail line has few structural needs and the repairs are manageable, but there is not a lot of freight on the south end," Stogner said. "What hauling garbage would do is create an income source to make it financially viable to operate on the south end. It could be a real silver bullet for us, because all of a sudden we've got a financial incentive for an operator to use the south side of the railroad."
The rail authority would maintain the rail line and a freight train operator would pay rent to use the tracks.
Stogner envisions trash loaded onto freight trains in Windsor or Santa Rosa and hauled to a switching station near Napa, where it can access eastbound tracks toward Nevada.
"If the anchor tenant became garbage, there are also forest products to be hauled, rock and gravel and grains that come in from the Midwest," Stogner said. "The environmental benefits of taking trucks off Highway 101 are obvious."

Sounds like a win- win situation.

Also - trains, mmm, I like trains. Maybe we'll get our commuter train down the south end of the Hwy 101 corridor after all!


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