North Coast Railroad Authority

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SB 1029 (McGuire) North Coast Railroad Authority State Mandate

(1) Existing law creates the North Coast Railroad Authority with various powers and duties relating to rail service in the north coast area of the state, including the authorization to acquire, own, operate, and lease real and personal property reasonably related to the operation and maintenance of railroads.

This bill would require the Transportation Agency, in consultation with the Natural Resources Agency, upon the appropriation of moneys by the Legislature for these purposes, to conduct an assessment of the North Coast Railroad Authority to provide information necessary to determine the most appropriate way to dissolve the authority and dispense with its assets and liabilities, and to report on the assessment to the Legislature before July 1, 2020. The bill would authorize those agencies to request the Department of General Services, the Department of Finance, or any department within their agencies, or contract with other entities, to perform the work the agencies deem necessary to carry out the assessment. The bill would require the Transportation Agency to prioritize the assessment of the southern portion of the rail corridor, and would authorize the Transportation Agency to separately report information related to the potential transfer of the southern portion of the rail corridor to the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District.

This bill would repeal and revise various provisions relating to the authority. The bill would authorize the authority to acquire, own, operate, and lease real and personal property reasonably related to, instead, the furtherance of certain purposes, the planned transfer of all of its assets, and its dissolution. The bill would require the authority to cooperate with the assessment conducted by the Transportation Agency and Natural Resources Agency, and to provide access to all authority records, files, documents, accounts, reports, correspondence, and financial affairs to the agencies, and any entity conducting the assessment for the agencies.

Existing law creates, within the Counties of Sonoma and Marin, the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District with specified duties and powers. Existing law requires the district to work with specified authorities to achieve a safe, efficient, and compatible system of passenger and freight rail service, and authorizes the district, among other things, to provide a rail transit system for the transportation of passengers and their incidental baggage by rail.

This bill would authorize the district to also provide a rail transit system for the provision of freight service by rail.

Existing law creates the Public Transportation Account as a trust fund. Existing law requires revenues in the account to be used solely for mass transportation and transportation planning purposes, as specified.

This bill would appropriate $4,000,000 to the Transportation Agency from the Public Transportation Account for rail improvements on the corridor owned by the district and the authority. The bill would allocate those moneys to the district for the acquisition of freight rights and equipment from the Northwestern Pacific Railroad Company to ensure efficient provision of goods movement requirements in the corridor in the context of growing passenger service and authorizes the transfer of those moneys to the district, as specified.

(2) Because this bill would impose new requirements on local entities, it would impose a state-mandated local program.

The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.

This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to the statutory provisions noted above.

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