State Senator Mike McGuire’s office is drafting legislation that would completely dissolve the North Coast Railroad Authority, the state agency that has run the mostly moribund railroad line between Humboldt County and the Bay Area for nearly 30 years.
In its place, McGuire’s draft legislation would create a new state body — the “Great Redwood Trail Agency” — to manage railroad assets between here and Willits. The agency would be charged with railbanking the line and eventually building a multiuse trail on the right-of-way.
McGuire’s draft legislation comes at a time when the North Coast Railroad Authority is facing intense scrutiny from state oversight agencies. In December of last year, the California Transportation Commission called on the state legislature to form a special commission to hash out the future of the authority, whose operating budget comes almost entirely from the sale and lease of publicly owned real estate assets. No trains have run north of Sonoma County for the last 20 years.
In addition, the authority has gone rogue in the last year. Despite being an agency of the state, it has asked the United States Supreme Court to overturn a state Supreme Court decision that held it to state environmental law. The U.S. Supreme Court has yet to decide whether it will hear the petition.