Tuesday May 22 2012
Historic rails could stay in new compromise plan in El Dorado County
By: Penne Usher, Telegraph Correspondent
Trail users want railroad removed, say it is not viable
The decision of what to do with 17 miles of railroad track between Shingle Springs and the west El Dorado County line remains undetermined. The Sacramento Placerville Transportation Corridor Joint Powers Authority, which owns the rail corridor proposed, an Excursion Compromise last week to the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors. Under the latest compromise proposal, the tracks would remain and a trail for biking and hiking would be built alongside the tracks. Opponents of the rail plan, the Friends of El Dorado Trails, want the track removed and the corridor used exclusively for a trail system. The Trails group previously proposed the Shingle Springs Compromise The Excursion Compromise was sent back to the joint powers oversight committee on a vote of 4 to 2. Placerville Sacramento Valley Railroad president Jim Harville said the Excursion Compromise is the best solution. ?We want to work together to develop a trail alongside the rail,? he said. ?We can contribute with public and materials and support from the county, staff and the community.? If the Shingle Springs Compromise were to be adopted, the railroad in the corridor would be lost and it would still be costly to remove the rails and ties and build a trial system, according to Harville. ?It will cost the same regardless of which plan is approved,? Harville said. ?With ours, you get trails and rails.? El Dorado County Supervisor Norma Santiago, District 5, said Friday that she supports the rail side of the issue as well as the Excursion Compromise, but voted to send the Excursion Compromise back to committee for more revision and detail. ?There is an opportunity for economic development with this plan,? she said. ?We develop the trail (keep the rail) and both can utilize the (corridor).? She said the board and both sides of the issue have talked about compromises enough and it?s time for some action. The trails group has been at odds with train enthusiasts for years over the use of the tracks. Under the Shingle Plan Compromise, the 17-mile stretch from Shingle Springs to the county line near Folsom would be a multi-use trail for hiking, biking and equestrian use. Friends of El Dorado Trails president Mike Kenison has said ?trains are a financial disaster,? and the rail enthusiasts? plan is not financially feasible. ?They have a hard time making a go of it. They aren?t making money,? Kenison said in a previous interview. ?These are hobbyists using an old line. They will have to update the track and the ties.?