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 Post subject: Roaring Camp facing forced abandonment
PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2022 12:31 am 

Joined: Sat Aug 21, 2004 10:50 pm
Posts: 540
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact:
Jeanette Guire
jeanette@roaringcamp.com, (831) 335-4484
ROARING CAMP REJECTS RTC’S PLAN TO FORCE ABANDONMENT OF RAIL LINE
Regional Transportation Commission to consider plan that threatens Roaring Camp rail line, as well as future of rail transportation in Santa Cruz County
FELTON, CA – JANUARY 19, 2022 – Roaring Camp, Inc. (Roaring Camp), operator of the Santa Cruz, Big Trees & Pacific Railway, today called upon the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) to reject at its Feb. 3, 2022, meeting the hostile attempt proposed by RTC staff to initiate a process that aims to force abandonment of the Felton Branch Rail Line. Forced abandonment of the line, which is wholly owned by Roaring Camp, would remove Roaring Camp’s right to utilize the rail line for freight use. Loss of the right to freight us would have a highly negative impact on Roaring Camp’s business and would represent the first step in a larger, special interests-fueled effort to end rail service in Santa Cruz County.
Roaring Camp released the following statement from CEO Melani Clark:
“Roaring Camp is strongly opposed to the RTC’s proposed action to pursue forced abandonment of the rail line we’ve owned and operated since 1984 because doing so will seriously harm our local, family-run, women-owned business, and our local economy. The RTC’s proposal represents an aggressive attack on our railroad and rail transportation in our county, fueled by special interests that are lobbying hard to end rail in Santa Cruz County. We encourage our community to join Roaring Camp in standing up against this poorly conceived, shortsighted move.
Roaring Camp’s diversified business operates in both North County and South County, and includes freight and tourist trains. Forced abandonment of the Felton Branch Rail Line will cause multiple adverse impacts for Roaring Camp, beginning with a permanent end to freight operations, which removes rail service as an option for local businesses.
Roaring Camp is under contract to provide freight service on the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line through an agreement reached with the freight operator in 2021, including in South County where we are currently seeing growth in our services for multiple local industries. However, due to inaction by the RTC to repair two bridges, currently freight service is prevented from running the full distance between Santa Cruz and Watsonville (and beyond). Responsibility for the lack of access to freight services for local businesses north of Watsonville rests with the RTC under its agreement with the freight operator. This unfortunate circumstance is holding back our community in terms of economic development that supports job and income growth, and as an important strategy in the fight against climate change – freight-by-rail accounts for only 2% of greenhouse gas emissions, compared to 24% coming from trucks on roadways, according to the U.S. EPA.
In North County, the threatened loss of Roaring Camp’s right to freight service is especially alarming as we look ahead to the rebuilding process in the wake of the CZU Lightning Complex fire that destroyed

approximately 900 homes in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Rail presents a critical advantage as we confront rising materials prices and trucking shortages, with freight rail serving as a dependable, cost-effective and greener alternative. Freight rail also represents a potential tool for our community as we consider how to prepare for future climate-related disasters that may require the need to deliver emergency water and emergency fire-fighting assets to the region.
Roaring Camp’s tourist train operations are also threatened by the RTC’s forced abandonment plans. Our tourist trains carry approximately 200,000 - 250,000 guests per year (pre-pandemic), with a very large portion of those guests staying in area hotels, contributing to the local economy and tax base. Our beach train operations that run from Felton to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk remove approximately 9,000 cars off the road during busy summer months. Forced abandonment represents a serious overreach of local government and is a clear threat to our business including the more than 60 permanent employees who work for Roaring Camp, as well as many more seasonal employees.
But make no mistake, the RTC’s proposal goes well beyond impacting Roaring Camp; the proposal is clearly part of a larger scheme that will have permanent and deeply negative impacts for our entire county. Should the Felton Line be declared abandoned, Roaring Camp’s rail line will be the first domino to fall in a series of moves that would conclude with abandonment of the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line (SCBRL) that runs the length of Santa Cruz County. Abandonment of the SCBRL will result in the permanent end to any possibility of passenger rail service for Santa Cruz County. The RTC’s potential aggressive action against Roaring Camp should serve as a major wake-up call for anyone who is interested in a future that includes both a rail and a trail system for our county. This isn’t just about Roaring Camp. It’s about our entire community and our future.
The RTC’s forced abandonment of the Felton Branch Rail Line also represents a breach of trust and a betrayal of a commitment. Roaring Camp was urged by local elected officials to give up its right of first refusal to purchase the Santa Cruz Branch Rail line from Union Pacific. My family was assured the rail line was an extremely important asset to the county, that the RTC had worked hard to line up funding from the state and that the sale to the RTC was for the benefit of the entire community. Roaring Camp was assured the line would be used for rail, thanks to funding from Proposition 116, which specifically calls for a commitment to rail service. In response, Roaring Camp cleared the way for the RTC to purchase the line. Now, the RTC is targeting Roaring Camp’s Felton Branch Rail Line as the first step toward forced abandonment of the full Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line and a betrayal of a commitment made to future rail that was made to Roaring Camp, the people of Santa Cruz County and the State of California.
Roaring Camp has decades of history providing rail service in Santa Cruz County and we continue to be devoted to delivering quality transportation and recreation opportunities for local residents and businesses, as well as visitors. We look forward to engaging with our community in the fight to stop the RTC’s attempt to force abandonment of the Felton Branch Rail Line.”
ABOUT ROARING CAMP, INC.
Incorporated in 1958, privately held Roaring Camp, Inc. (Roaring Camp) operates two railroads, including the Redwood Forest Steam Train and the Santa Cruz Big Trees & Pacific Railway. Roaring Camp also owns the historic Felton Branch Rail Line, which is eight miles long and runs across a 1909 steel truss bridge and passes through a tunnel in Santa Cruz that was built in 1875. Norman Clark founded Roaring Camp and ran the business until his passing in 1985, after which his wife, Georgiana assumed ownership and management responsibilities. She was succeeded as CEO by Georgiana and Norman’s daughter, Melani Clark. Roaring Camp is a woman-owned business, with majority shareholders that include Melani Clark and her two sisters. Visit http://www.roaringcamp.com for more information.
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 Post subject: Re: Roaring Camp facing forced abandonment
PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2022 12:44 am 

Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2012 4:49 pm
Posts: 261
Location: Los Altos, CA
This stinks out loud. Is there an email to send public comments?


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 Post subject: Re: Roaring Camp facing forced abandonment
PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2022 2:19 am 

Joined: Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:33 am
Posts: 176
Honestly, Rails to Trails interests have gone on unchecked and ungoverned for so long its becoming clear that things are spiraling to the point they can bully their way to shut down any small rail operation they don't like. Look for example on Facebook the page "Trail Now" which is actively demanding that Roaring Camp replace their Santa Cruz beach access with either reduced train access or outright with a "rubber wheeled trolley to the amusement park." If this doesn't go unopposed, we could end up quickly with another Adirondack Scenic incident here.

Oh here is their email address if anyone wants to forward their criticism of the plan to the Santa Cruz RTC: info@sccrtc.org


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 Post subject: Re: Roaring Camp facing forced abandonment
PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2022 1:09 pm 

Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2012 4:49 pm
Posts: 261
Location: Los Altos, CA
xboxtravis7992 wrote:
Oh here is their email address if anyone wants to forward their criticism of the plan to the Santa Cruz RTC: info@sccrtc.org


Send in your comments now. I just sent this: "I join Roaring Camp, Inc, a local, family-run, women-owned business, in opposition to the potential abandonment and removal of any railroad line between Felton and Watsonville. Rail presents a critical advantage as we confront rising materials prices and trucking shortages, with freight rail serving as a dependable, cost-effective and greener alternative. Freight rail also represents a potential tool for our community as we consider how to prepare for future climate-related disasters that may require the need to deliver emergency water and emergency fire-fighting assets to the region.

Roaring Camp has put together an excellent statement opposing the proposed abandonment. Rather than repeat what they have already written, I will simply say 'I agree.'"


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 Post subject: Re: Roaring Camp facing forced abandonment
PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2022 4:01 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:54 pm
Posts: 2023
Almost 18.25 years has gone by, and I see no reason to change my assessment that RTT is a mortal enemy.

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7377&hilit=rail+trail+superheater


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 Post subject: Re: Roaring Camp facing forced abandonment
PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2022 6:44 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 25, 2007 12:45 am
Posts: 895
From an article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel:

Quote:
SANTA CRUZ — Roaring Camp Railroads on Wednesday morning released a statement asking the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission to reject a proposal allegedly slated for next month’s meeting that would force abandonment on the Felton Branch Rail Line.

RTC staff had not yet posted an agenda for Feb. 3.

The Felton Branch Rail line, the company’s rail line, connects to the RTC-owned Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line at Maple Street in downtown Santa Cruz.

“Forced abandonment of the line, which is wholly owned by Roaring Camp, would remove Roaring Camp’s right to utilize the rail line for freight use. Loss of the right to freight us would have a highly negative impact on Roaring Camp’s business and would represent the first step in a larger, special interests-fueled effort to end rail service in Santa Cruz County,” representatives of Roaring Camp, operator of the Santa Cruz, Big Trees & Pacific Railway, said in the announcement.

Hours later, RTC staff responded that the commission will receive a report in February related to potential adverse abandonment action on the Felton Branch Line and the relationship of abandonment to possible future railbanking of a portion of the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line north of Watsonville. However, the abandonment action would affect freight service only. No decision has been made nor movements have been authorized to file for an adverse abandonment application.
Link to the full January 19, 2022 article, which was not behind a paywall when I read it:
After condemnation, RTC confirms consideration of Felton line abandonment


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 Post subject: Re: Roaring Camp facing forced abandonment
PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2022 6:45 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 29, 2004 4:49 pm
Posts: 478
The Trail Nazis strike again.


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 Post subject: Re: Roaring Camp facing forced abandonment
PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2022 6:54 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 25, 2007 12:45 am
Posts: 895
Here's a December 14, 2021 article on Lookout Santa Cruz:
Quote:
Supporters of a proposed initiative that would, if passed, could potentially require the county to build a parklike trail from Santa Cruz to Watsonville on the railroad tracks between the cities formally presented a petition with more than 16,000 signatures to the Santa Cruz County Clerk’s office Tuesday morning.

The so-called Greenway Plan is in direct opposition to those who want a trail alongside a commuter train on the Santa Cruz Branch Line. The proposal — which still needs to have its signatures verified — would effectively force county leaders’ hands regarding the longstanding controversy and, supporters hope, end it once and for all.

Regarding next steps, County Clerk Tricia Webber said her office has until Jan. 31 — 30 business days, excluding county holidays — to verify the signatures as a next step of the process.
Link to full article: Greenway submits signatures for proposed initiative on use of rail line


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 Post subject: Re: Roaring Camp facing forced abandonment
PostPosted: Fri Jan 21, 2022 8:11 am 

Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2015 11:54 am
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Location: New Franklin, OH
Here’s RTC’s side of the story: https://sccrtc.org/rtc-to-receive-informational-report-at-the-feb-3-commission-meeting-regarding-potential-adverse-abandonment-action-for-freight-service-only-on-the-felton-branch-line-and-the-relationship-to-the-poten/

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 Post subject: Re: Roaring Camp facing forced abandonment
PostPosted: Fri Jan 21, 2022 12:50 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:28 am
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Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
"Abandonment" in regulatory terms, doesn't mean the same thing we often think, as in tearing up trackage.

From my semi-skilled eyes, it appears that the county wants to abandon the portion of the branch they own, railbank it, and possibly turn it into a trail. This is the process to railbank it and not allow the right of way to potentially revert back to adjacent property owners (depending on how the ROW was originally acquired)
If the branch is Roaring Camp's only outlet to the rest of the world, that is what is meant by "forced abandonment." The county is seeking to essentially sever the outside connection, but not impede on the line itself owned by RC. I don't see them forcing RC to tear up its trackage, it would just sever the connection to the outside world.

RC owns its portion of the standard gauge line into Santa Cruz. There would have to be some sort of condemnation proceeding to actually forcibly acquire their property interest in the line.

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 Post subject: Re: Roaring Camp facing forced abandonment
PostPosted: Fri Jan 21, 2022 1:10 pm 

Joined: Fri Nov 11, 2016 10:17 pm
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"rail banking" might as well be full on abandonment.

Is there a single example of a line returning to active service following "rail banking"?

Once the various trail associations etc get involved with turning it into a full on trail, that's it for the rail line. There is no way it will be required etc and re built.


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 Post subject: Re: Roaring Camp facing forced abandonment
PostPosted: Fri Jan 21, 2022 1:28 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:28 am
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Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
There's a difference between rail banking the county owned portion of the line, and somehow forcing RC to abandon, tear up, and rail bank their line. It does sever RC's connection with the outside world though.

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 Post subject: Re: Roaring Camp facing forced abandonment
PostPosted: Fri Jan 21, 2022 1:40 pm 

Joined: Fri Nov 11, 2016 10:17 pm
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If they are a common carrier under STB/ FRA, how can they be forced to give up their outside connection?
Can they not petition this to the STB ? Seems absurd.

My point still remains on the rail banking, has a line ever returned to active service from this fate?


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 Post subject: Re: Roaring Camp facing forced abandonment
PostPosted: Fri Jan 21, 2022 1:49 pm 

Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 7:52 am
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Location: Strasburg, PA
Does the line in question actively handle freight at this time, or does just have the potential of handling it? If actively handling freight, wouldn't the STB have something to say about it?

Also, locally, PENNDOT is a source for a lot of the funding for the Strasburg RR to increase its freight capacity, sighting the savings in road repair and congestion due to having less 18 wheeler mileage on the highways. Wouldn't California's DOT have the same mindset?

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 Post subject: Re: Roaring Camp facing forced abandonment
PostPosted: Fri Jan 21, 2022 3:15 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
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Location: Somewhere east of Prescott, AZ along the old Santa Fe "Prescott & Eastern"
CA1 wrote:
My point still remains on the rail banking, has a line ever returned to active service from this fate?


I don't have the citations on hand at the moment, but it HAS happened. So never say "never."

Rare and very infrequent, but yes.

The major example I remember hearing was reopening part of an abandoned spur to a reactivated quarry/mine.

If you're looking for the reactivation of a mothballed former main like the Saluda Grade or Tennessee Pass, I have to send you over to Scotland's Waverly Route/Borders Line--which is a different regulatory environment altogether. And even that was only about a third of the railway line in question.


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