North Coast Journal    May 2, 2002

Too Good to be True?

There may not be many trains on the Northwestern Pacific rail line in the next few months, but the North Coast Railroad Authority is looking for someone to serve as an operator.

The operator does the actual work of running a railroad on tracks owned by the authority. The authority terminated its relationship with former operator John Darling last year, claiming Darling had defaulted on his track-maintenance responsibilities.

Authority official Leo Sears emphasized the need for an operable railroad on the North Coast, stating that it was necessary for a viable economy. "The timber and fishing industries are in decline, and tourism will never be a good economic base. It's fickle with low-paying jobs," said Sears. "We need to develop our deep water port and get the railroad going. Companies are always looking to expand, always looking here, but they leave when they see there's no railroad or harbor."

Ted Niemeyer, a developer from Illinois, has expressed an interest in buying parts of the North Coast corridor outright. Sears, however, remains unconvinced. "If he (Niemeyer) is what he puts himself out to be, I would do handstands. I'm not against it, I just have to be skeptical," Sears commented.