The "Shingle Springs Compromise Plan" proposes to:
Here is what that looks like on a map:
As you can see, the rail corridor in question starts near Historic Folsom along the American River, and runs all the way to Diamond Springs on the outskirts of Placerville, stopping just short of Missouri Flat Road. Removing the proposed section will literally cut the heart out of this historic railroad. It is the most beautiful section of the entire line, and was originally constructed during the Civil War between 1863 and 1865, more than two decades before the section they propose to keep.
To remove this track would be a great loss to our community, our region, and our Nation!
We simply cannot support a plan that proposes the destruction of this priceless asset. Our mission is to "Protect, Preserve, and Develop the Folsom-Placerville Railroad Right-of-Way", which means that any plan that calls for rail removal is out of the question.
Here's what we do support: A Rails WITH Trails plan for the entire corridor!
In the Shingle Springs Compromise Plan, the trail developers would be required to adopt a Rails WITH Trails plan from the existing El Dorado Trail at Missouri Flat Road to the old freight depot at Shingle Springs. They would also have to accept a Rails WITH Trails plan in Folsom, because Folsom has already built miles of Bike Path alongside the tracks and it is working great! Folsom is not interested in removing the rails. So, why would you choose to follow one plan at both ends of the line, but follow a different plan in the middle? It makes absolutely no sense! In addition, the Shingle Springs Compromise Plan only takes away the rails. Because it does not include identified, dedicated funding it does not prepare the railbed, it does not pave the railbed, and it does not provide for any of the other necessary improvements that a Class I Bike Path requires. All that El Dorado County will get out of removing the middle section of the railroad is an unfinished trail to nowhere, that connects to absolutely nothing. Even if the rails disappear tomorrow, it will take 20 years and tens of millions of taxpayer dollars before their plan is fully realized. P&SVRR would much rather spend that 20 years developing solutions and securing funding which can build the Bike Path and ensure that the railroad is preserved forever!
The Shingle Springs Compromise Plan is bad for our region, and bad for El Dorado County!
P&SVRR has run successful train operations along the corridor since the Fall of 2010. In the Spring of 2011 our volunteers repaired a major washout on the railroad seven miles east of Folsom, allowing P&SVRR to run passenger service to the historic community of Latrobe for the first time in more than 50 years! We have a solid business plan, and all of our projects are paid for by ticket sales and private donations. When the supporters of the Shingle Springs Compromise Plan say "the rail corridor has not been used for 20 years", it is simply not true. Our non-profit membership organization, the Folsom, El Dorado, and Sacramento Historical Railroad Association (FEDSHRA), has been maintaining the corridor all along with the dream that someday trains would once again travel these rails. Beginning soon after the railroad was purchased from Southern Pacific, our volunteers have spent tens of thousands of hours maintaining the corridor, clearing brush and trees, supporting a clear firebreak, maintaining and repairing culverts and other drainage, and replacing worn-out track components such as damaged or rotten railroad ties and bent or broken rails. Today, the dream of a sustainable, World Class Railroad Attraction is well within reach.
The agency that purchased the rail corridor from Southern Pacific Railroad is called the Sacramento Placerville Transportation Corridor Joint Powers Authority, or SPTC-JPA. This JPA consists of 4 member agencies:
In addition, a fifth "Member-at-Large" is chosen by the appointed representatives of the four primary member agencies. Historically, this has been a member of the Rancho Cordova City Council.
In 2008, the SPTC-JPA issued a Request for Proposal for an Excursion Railroad Operator. After receiving a Letter of Intent, we formed Placerville and Sacramento Valley Railroad, Inc., a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation. At that time, we began negotiations with the SPTC-JPA to operate in the corridor. In May, 2011, a 5-year Operating License was approved 4-0 by the Board of Directors of the SPTC-JPA(The El Dorado County representative was not in attendance). Because of pre-existing agreements between the member agencies, ratification from the three affected member agencies was needed before we could expand our operations over the entire line.
Here is a brief summary of the significant political actions of 2011-2012:
We feel strongly that an excursion train is a benefit to the local economy, promoting tourism in our area. People come out and spend money at local businesses, which is even more important in these tough economic times. We actually partner with local businesses to make the excursion train more than just a ride, and work with many of the local chambers of commerce to build our local economy. We also work with local schools to offer educational railroad fieldtrips for the students to experience our history. Our passengers experience the beauty of our area from a vantage point that is unique and full of character. When we take passengers on the train, we can see the pleasure in their expressions. The train is an emersive experience, a voyage back in time, and a chance for them to learn about and live our history today. This railroad corridor offers incredible potential for our entire area, and we look forward to exploring and developing every possibility.
We feel that a trail in the corridor is very important, and that a Rails WITH Trails plan has many benefits. Imagine you can load your bike up on the train and take a ride from Folsom to Shingle Springs, then have a quick lunch, and off you go, riding all the way back on the trail. Imagine several spots along the trail where, if you are tired, you can stop and catch the train to take you back to where you started. Imagine being able to combine a train ride with hopping off and exploring a particular section, whether it be a nature hike, photography, geocaching, or some other activity. The train can bring many more people to the trail, and we feel the trail will benefit the train as well. This is why we support a Rails WITH Trails plan for the entire corridor. El Dorado County can clearly have it all, if only leadership is taken and the corridor is treated as it was intended: a multi-use corridor for Hiking, Bicycling, Equestrian AND Excursion Rail use, and as our Mission Statement declares, "for the benefit, use, education, and enjoyment of the general public".
In Northern California, there are other examples of Rails With Trails projects:
Here are several ways you can help:
If you believe in what we are doing, please support us in our efforts to lead this vision and help make this project a reality for our entire community! Thank you for your support!